I just saw an eye-opening PBS segment: American small town newspapers are decreasing at an alarming rate. We are losing an average of two newspapers a week!
The editor of one of those newspapers, The Record, in Canadian, Texas (a rural farming and ranching town not so different than Socorro), was asked what the town lost when they closed. Her response hit home: “Our small town newspaper wrote important stories about this place and its people; it reminded us of what we have in common — our shared identity, challenges, culture, and community.”
A local newspaper celebrates a town’s successes (academic achievements, high school sports, a new business or service) and our losses (fires, floods and lives remembered in obituaries). It lets us know what’s going on (meetings, special events, concerts, NMT). It alerts us to problems (Eagle Picher, drugs, homelessness, food access) and serves as a call to action.
Our newspaper provides information that is key to democracy like candidate profiles — who is on the ballot, what is their work, their experience, their interests — so that we can cast an educated vote without just relying on the shiny candidate-generated flyers that appear on our doorsteps and in our mailboxes.
A good local newspaper writes editorials that make you think. It starts conversations and gives the opportunity to write back and share another point of view. It helps to keep our elected officials accountable and responsive to the community — who voted for what? where is the money going? Statistics have shown that communities without newspapers have higher rates of corruption and irresponsible spending.
As I see it, we’re fortunate to have El Defensor Chieftain. Let’s do everything we can to keep it going!