Many Wisconsin Newspapers Homogenized, Journalism Suffers

One of the upsides with layovers when flying is stopping at the business in the airport which always sells newspapers and candy. It is of interest to note what lands above the fold in various locales as it gives an insight into what local news operations understand to be pressing news, or what concerns local readers.

But with the downsizing of newspapers and the desire by some owners to place profits above the call for serious journalism and information, there is a truly sad outcome taking place for this profession. And for the readers.

Wisconsin is not immune from the problem.

Take a look at six newspapers from Wednesday, April 6, 2021, published in central and Northeastern portions of Wisconsin. You can click on images to make them bigger, but it does not make them better.

The above newspapers are owned by either USA Today Network or Gannett. That combination owns more than 100 newspaper and digital properties across the United States. If you think the front pages of the newspapers are repetitive you can be assured the same is true for their digital side, too.

What is equally sad is the skeletal OP-Ed pages that have long been a place for community dialogue and strong editorials from the newspaper. When local voices are not given space to opine means that only the ones with a larger platform or microphone are heard.

While investors in the companies that buy up newspapers reap financial rewards the newspaper industry suffers. What constitutes local news and the neighborhood feel and tone of small-market papers shrinks as fewer reporters are employed and too few inches for local news are provided. Cookie-cutter operations, as seen from the examples above, can far too easily spread across a state.

I would strongly argue that such undercutting of newspapers weakens our democracy. Keeping local officials in check with diligent journalism, allowing for the local voters to know what is happening at the school board or county level, and investigating concerns that are at times, not a visual story for television all are reasons we should have robust newspapers.

I would argue that traditional news sources, where facts and standards are applied to the profession, are needed more than ever. Social media, where too many inaccurate and misleading stories abound, requires an antidote. And when it comes to local news there is an absolute need for more coverage and higher standards.

What we are witnessing in too many communities with hollowed-out newspapers is really sad. Is it any wonder there are fewer newspaper readers?

And so it goes.

3 thoughts on “Many Wisconsin Newspapers Homogenized, Journalism Suffers

  1. Cornelius_Gotchberg

    Having delivered the Milwaukee Journal, the Capital Times, the Wisconsin State Journal, and the Milwaukee Sentinel, ended a job-related broken arm/then aging out, The Gotch has always understood the importance of the daily print medium.

    As long time subscribers, he and his lovely and long suffering wife support The Iron County Miner–Published Weekly-Read Daily, which is also happens to be the oldest business on the Gogebic Range.

    Another (IMO) gem for Up Dere is the positively marvelous Tuesday-Saturday Ironwood, MI The Daily Globe.

    Both serve a sparsely populated VERY rural area of the known Universe, and the value of their keeping it (an internet purgatory if there ever was one!) informed of local goings on is immeasurable.

    The Gotch

    1. Iron County makes me think of Mike Fauerbach, one of the good guys who resided there, who passed away too young, only a few years ago. As to newspapers, I grew up with The Stevens Point Journal arriving 6 days a week in our mailbox. Buz Sawyer was my first must-read as a boy.

  2. There is a serious problem with the media in the 21st century.

    “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” Malcolm X

    The few at the top of the mainstream media complex seem to be controlling the information that the media presents to the public and a huge cross section of what’s presented is not ethical unbiased journalism but pure advocate journalism, aka propaganda, and that makes those media outlets and enemy to the people and therefore an enemy to democracy. This is not what the founding fathers envisioned when they created the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    Most of the 21st century mainstream media complex appears to be in bed with totalitarians that are undermining our culture and now it seems that common sense, critical thinking, logic & liberty just quaint anecdotes of an archaic history that needs to be scrubbed from existence.

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