Community journalism – Stabroek News

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The amazing development and adoption of the World Wide Web over the past twenty years has had a very disruptive effect on the newspaper industry. The adaptation of many publications has centered on their ability to shift from a business model that automatically monetizes content (a reader would simply pay for their newspaper while the ad earns extra revenue) to a model where it could suddenly be read. free online at a time when internet advertising was limited.

Some have overcome this disruption by continuing to print and charge for the traditional newspaper while providing the content for free online; others have simply stopped printing and now offer free content online, relying on advertising; and others have implemented various paywall models ranging from offering a few free articles per month or accessing free opinion sections to all the content behind a paywall. The paywall model involved a daunting task of persuading readers to pay for content, but it appears that many newspapers that have taken this route have stabilized their finances and, in some cases, flourished. And that’s only fair. Quality journalism costs money. The New York Times is a good example. He was greatly affected by the advent of the Internet. Between 2000 and 2020, its daily circulation fell by 55.7%. He lost hundreds of employees as he ran into the red. However, it has since come through the most transformative time in its history using new technology to create exciting ways to present stories and engage readers. It has also been a financial success as it has built up a base of 8 million subscribers online.

However, paywalls come at a price, as not everyone who wants to read an important story or OpEd can. This can mean a decrease in a newspaper’s influence, and since a reader must choose and pay for a subscription, it can create readership compartmentalization – 91% of NYT readers identify as Democrats. For a small country like Guyana which can contribute to a less informed society and where people are not open to other points of view or stories that do not match their own perceptions. This allows the kind of misinformation and dangerous misinformation spread through social media to flourish.

At the same time, serious newspaper reading went from a widespread morning activity to an activity somewhat niche in how jazz went from a wild popularity in the 1950s to a lost musical genre. In this vein, specialized financial publications such as the Wall St Journal, The Economist or the Financial Times create highly remunerated content. Again, it may not be the amount of readership that you reach but the quality that matters. It might sound snobbish, but reaching out to that one politician or political influencer (to steal a sentence from Instagram) often has well over a thousand working-class readers. After all, it is always the elite who decide what is new, what is important in a society. Just look at the reams of newsprint spent lately on local content policy….

Local or community newspapers in particular have been devastated by the Internet. According to Poynter, a journalism school and nonprofit research organization, since 2004 about 1,800 newspapers have closed in the United States, including 1,700 weeklies in small communities and creating what are called “deserts.” some information “. The Covid-19 has only accelerated the pace of closures. Researcher Penny Abernathy said, “When you lose a small daily or weekly, you lose the reporter who was going to show up at your school council meeting, your planning council meeting, your county commissioner meeting,” she declared. Communities lose transparency and accountability. Research shows that taxes are rising and voter turnout is declining in these deserts. It’s a shame, especially for the hard-working journalists who were truly part of those communities and working hard to keep going… like the whalers in the second half of the 19th century when fossil fuels scuttled their ships.

Some local newspapers survived, but had to cut costs significantly and turn into a mishmash of infomercials and newspaper articles cut and pasted from national news. Instead, as playwright Arthur Miller suggested, “a good newspaper… is a nation that speaks to itself”. In other words, the average reader should feel like they recognize their country on the printed page or on the phone screen.

Community journalism is there for that and has an important role to play. Local news is perhaps most effective when it highlights what may appear to a stranger to be a small injustice in a neighborhood. A businessman is building an illegal or environmentally hazardous structure or has blocked a public road or a drain. These types of community grievances, as opposed to a major legal battle in the High Court, often involve people who live around each other and know NDC members or mayors. It can be very messy. By highlighting issues in a balanced way, a story surprisingly often has the effect of achieving a satisfactory outcome. Other stories about what community members do or the history of a village are read carefully and even cut out for a house scrapbook.

Everything looks picturesque in this Facebook world where you can see what your neighbor is doing not by looking out the window but by seeing his “story”. The level of interdependence is extraordinary although it can never be a substitute for reliable accounts when it comes to serious matters.

Perhaps without the multiple reports in all the newspapers as well as in other professional media, the consequences of the murders of the Henry boys at Cotton Tree, West Berbice last year could have been much worse. Overall, they delivered the facts and dispelled the dangerous rumors in what was a precarious situation. We’ll never know, but it looks like the rise of social media is leading to unreliable news that can ignite societies. The capture of the Capitol on January 6 is a good example.

Community journalism, when done right, can even strengthen and harmonize communities by helping to show others like humans first. It can also promote local businesses and thus keep the money in communities rather than investing it in chain stores.

Ultimately, this creates a more complete picture and reinforces a sense of community which is after all what every country is made up of – a collection of communities. Finding correspondents ready to take on such roles is not easy, but it is well worth it and is part of the service that any responsible national newspaper should provide.


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