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Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

Local journalism is vital to democracy

Because of dwindling public trust in journalism outlets, many local publications have been forced to close down, leaving communities without access to credible news. 
Photo+source%3A+Unsplash
Photo source: Unsplash

After the COVID-19 pandemic, journalistic stories have been filled with a barrage of tragic headlines and charged, divisive rhetoric.

People have expressed fear over the deterioration of journalism, admonishing a “media disaster.” However, the reduction of the problem creates a new issue by blocking actionable change by news organizations to revive objective reporting, and perpetuates an “anti-press” sentiment that worsens division. 

Local newspaper outlets have borne the brunt of dwindling press credibility, and many are at risk for disappearing entirely. Within the U.S., two newspapers close every week. This phenomenon has led to “news deserts,” leaving struggling communities in a distorted ecosystem of misinformation and eroding trust. Walnut previously had two newspapers: The Times, which halted production in 1979, and Contra Costa Times, which stopped publishing in 2016.

News deserts have left a fifth of the American population without a functioning local news outlet—what should be a community’s reliable source of information. Consequently, they are forced to turn to national news and social media platforms; however, national news outlets seldom have reports relevant to their community, and social media platforms are often fraught with misinformation. 

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With the 2024 election looming ahead, widespread public distrust in the media has rendered a bleak and convoluted future for our democracy, which is established on the principle of a free press where journalists are supposed to report facts that inform the open exchange of ideas among citizens. 

The perilous state of local newspapers is accompanied with an onslaught of issues associated with a civic crisis — from dwindling voter participation and rampant corruption within governments and businesses, to the dissemination of falsehoods. 

Local journalism outlets are harbors of accountability, affirming that the government is serving public interests. During the COVID-19 pandemic, local news sources shared vital information on recent developments within the community — from case surges to vaccine availability. Local news outlets not only vitalize a strong civic scene by informing citizens, but also by directly engaging them in their community’s dialogues. 

Small newspapers unite people. When conflicting views arise, people can form their own opinions based on factual reporting and work toward tangible solutions rather than aimlessly finger pointing. 

Local journalism must be renewed as a public good that is fundamental to our democratic system. They need to be equipped with the means to adapt to the rapidly shifting media landscape, like implementing digital formats or restructuring newspaper incentives to serve the citizenry rather than advertisers. Public media is here to stay as a space for individuals to have productive discussions and protect the interests of the people, not divide them. 

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About the Contributor
Kaelin David, Opinion editor
Hi! My name is Kaelin David and I am in the 12th grade, serving as the Opinion editor for The Hoofprint. In my free time, I love playing around with website design and reading literary magazines.
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