OPINION | For local political coverage, we need community-based media

In recent years, struggling newspapers and profit-hungry TV news operations have repeatedly promised to deliver more local (even “hyperlocal”) news stories and content. Yet, close monitoring of Twin Cities metro dailies and local TV news programs (the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press, KARE 11, WCC0 4, KSTP 5, and KSMP 9) reveals diminishing rather than increasing attention to important stories concerning local government, neighborhoods, ethnic communities, schools, job training, transportation, health care, poverty, childcare, the elderly, environmental concerns and elections. As national and international bureaus and correspondents have been eliminated, newspapers have increasingly relied on wire service stories to fill the ‘A’ (front page) news section. At the same time, as more and more local reporters and editors have been let go, the regional or B sections of papers contain a smaller and smaller number of locally reported articles on community and civic concerns, especially those that go beyond the daily roster of straight-from-the-police-blotter crime and arrest reports or the routine human interest feature. Local TV news programs devote even less attention to serious community and civic concerns, having long ago abandoned coverage of such topics as local government for a marketing driven mix of sports, weather, crimes, fires, and fluff.    Yet, with each new round of newspaper cuts we are told that the newspaper’s commitment to unique local coverage remains unflagging, while each new ad campaign for local TV news touts their news operation as the most intimately engaged with the local community. Continue Reading