Whenever I travel, I like to read the local newspapers. In 1990 I read The Baltimore Sun and was astounded by the writing. In Florida last spring I wondered why the St. Petersburg and Tampa newspapers were so good. The dailies were like The Indianapolis Star of old. They were thick, and not with ads, although obviously they carried ads. There was coverage of local news. Even national and international stories seemed to have local writers. Indiana is in the same country. Why was there such a difference?
I realized the demographics of the community were such that people there, older and not acculturated on as great of a basis as younger people to the internet. The folks in Florida wanted to read their news from a paper. A market existed for that outlet for news.
Newsapers have become little more than packages for ads. They always have carried ads. They are commercial enterprises. But The Star, for example, consists of a lot of wire stories (I usually have read the afternoon or evening before on-line) and ads. As a result, we have lost local coverage of local stories. Newspapers cannot afford to carry local newsrooms.
As a result, local stories become lost in the shuffle. One such story is that of the quarter-million dollar contract to David Brooks to reconfigure lines for political districts. The Indiana Supreme Court did the same thing a while back for $1500. Plus, the reconfiguration cannot be done until 2012. It is too bad The Star does not carry this story on page one. Local newspapers meant something at one time. Now they are passe.