• Trinity Gruenberg

In Focus

Defund the media...rant warning...

I’ve been seeing that a lot lately. People accusing media outlets of spreading false information then quickly backtracking to say major outlets and not local newspapers.

I still struggle with the statement. Big or small, we are all media. Yes, some outlets have sensationalized things more than others, some allegedly lean left or lean right, accused of being controlled by political parties, big business or whatever. I think people just don’t like what they see and hear.

There is a lot of bad stuff happening in our country right now. I get that.

The bad is covered just as much as the good. Every outlet operates differently. I can’t speak for other outlets as I don’t know their policies, but one thing I can tell you is that it is illegal to post false information. This is considered to be slander and libel.

Both libel and slander are false statements made about one person by another person. Libel refers to a false statement made in writing, such as on a website or in a newspaper. Slander refers to a false statement that is spoken, rather than written.

No one is perfect. Mistakes are occasionally made. It has happened to all of us at some point in our careers. Corrections, clarifications and/or apologies are generally printed if this occurs. Sometimes there are other means to rectify a situation.

Sometimes we are inadvertently given the wrong information. I recall a time we received a press release from a police department. A short time later a corrected version was sent out as they had incorrectly identified a person. You would think information that comes from the city, county, state, etc. should be factual. They are human and can make mistakes too. But, occasionally, we take the brunt of the criticism because we publish the information. We do our best to fact check and check our resources. I joke and call myself the “Professional Rumor Control” because we have to look into the facts.

Defund the media...well, it’s already been defunded several times in the past year. At one point the pulp wood from Canada that paper mills use to make newspaper was hit with a hefty tariff causing printers to increase their prices 30-45 percent. That was a huge hit, especially to small newspapers. When the issue was resolved and the tariff removed, the printers never lowered their prices. Tax brackets also were shifted, causing higher payroll taxes for some businesses. Another huge hit. Some people have turned to social media to advertise instead of in their local newspapers. Advertising took a hit and this is a major source of income for a paper. Not everyone uses social media or has access, especially the elderly. Many advertisers are still missing a large audience by not advertising in their local papers.

These issues have led to many newspapers shutting their doors...six in the state so far during the pandemic. Approximately 15 others have changed the frequency they print. Over 2000 have closed nationwide in the past 15 years.

In my opinion, we are already “defunded” and struggling to survive. Local news matters. What is happening with your city council, schools, county? What about local sports? Local events? These things matter to a community. If your local newspaper shuts down, it will create a “news desert” with no local coverage.

We are just like many businesses in the community­—a small business—literally a “mom and pop” shop. Like many others, we have cut back our hours and trimmed where we can. Our income has decreased, but the bills keep rolling in. I fear what could possibly happen. Will our small town paper make it through this? Will I have a job if and when things ever get back to some kind of normalcy?

Defund the media...it’s already happened. Want to help save it? Subscribe to the newspaper or advertise. Does your restaurant have lunch specials? Having a garage sale? Selling something? Want people to patronize your farmer’s market or new business? How about a birthday or anniversary announcement? Put them in the paper!

We love our jobs. We love telling your stories and sharing community events. The connections and friendships we have made are priceless. I hope we can get through this uncertain time and come out of it even stronger. I don’t want you to have to read obituaries for our small town newspapers...because we are already defunded!




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