Friday, July 17, 2009

Think Again: The End of Local Reporting?

Much of the world of journalism has quite properly been focusing on the trials and tribulations of our great national newspapers—with the Washington Post’s self-inflicted wounds leading the pack. And it is easy to forget amid this obsession the importance of Tip O’Neil’s old adage: “All politics is local.”

True, local politics, like everything else, are not what they used to be. But the fact is that our political system—like our physical existence—still breaks down along geographical lines. And whether people care enough about local news to pay for it is, sadly, an entirely different question than whether our democracy requires a strong watchdog function at the local level to ensure safeguards against abuse, chicanery, and outright dishonesty. As the ex-journalist and impresario of “The Wire” David Simon observed when testifying before Congress about the death of the newspaper industry, “The next 10 or 15 years in this country are going to be a halcyon era for state and local political corruption.”

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