I recently came across a thought-provoking article entitled Ryerson Journalism Professor April Lindgren Sounds Alarm on Loss of Local Journalism and Rising News Poverty. The article poignantly discusses the disappearance of local journalism and the drawbacks that this change has had on many communities. I was specifically struck by one statistic that read that 423 local news outlets across 303 communities have disappeared since 2008, and in 166 communities, a total of 188 media organizations have closed down. I don’t think I would have thought twice about this statistic a year and a half ago. Although now, a year deep into a global pandemic, I genuinely cannot fathom how scary it would be to not have access to local news. I think about how each community has very strict COVID-19 guidelines. Some communities can have a maximum of 10 people indoors, others can only social distance outside, and some are still on full-lockdown. Knowing this information can make a massive difference in public health situations.
During the last year, we have become so preoccupied with avoiding contracting the virus. Should we also be worried about the spread of misinformation? Local news sources give citizens a piece of mind that knowing fact and fiction has already been distinguished for us. Might I add, it should not take a global pandemic for us to recognize the importance of local journalistic integrity. It is necessary that people have access to relevant and timely news not just about public health, but regarding education, politics, the economy, and all civic matters. To spell it out, we need to be able to access what we need to know. Reliable news is not exclusive to big cities or meant to be distributed solely by popular news publications. Having access to reputable journalism is a necessity and should not be overlooked. If you reside in the Kingston area, I recently started enjoying these local news sources: the Kingstonist News, The Whig, and The Kingston Local. I encourage you to support your local news outlets if you can, as the importance of reliable local journalism cannot be neglected any longer.