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local journalism is key to rebuilding democracy

Why local journalism is crucial for democracy

Boosting local journalism is crucial in a modern-day media landscape and “hugely important for democracy,” said Timothy Snyder, history professor at Yale University, speaking at the DW Global Media Forum that was held on June 14-15.

It’s critical that young people have tangible access to the news that directly affects their lives while growing up – and this requires local reporters writing about the issues that directly affect their community, Snyder stressed, warning that absence of local news could lead to polarization.

“People need to know what’s happening with their schools. People need to know whether the water in the local river is polluted. When people look at the newspaper, whether it makes them happy or not, they have to have the feeling that this is part of the texture of their own life.”

“This is so extraordinarily important,” he argued, “because if people don’t have local newspapers…  then they distrust what they call ‘the media’ their entire lives. If there’s no connection to the local, then people immediately skip to the national, or to the international, or to the realm of conspiracy.”

The Yale professor believes local journalism is especially crucial for people who grew up in a “news desert” as he did. He said that most of the countries in the United States have no proper newspapers reporting the news. “And when you lose that, you feel the vacuum. You feel the polarization that arises from that as people go upward into levels of things where they don’t really know what they’re talking about – and where they’re drawn into two opposing camps.”

However, Snyder realises the challenges of keeping local journalism alive. He knows that profitability may be a risk for so many who dare to take on local journalism. “I realize it’s not profitable but lots of things aren’t profitable: Clean water isn’t profitable either, going to Mars isn’t profitable. Lots of things we do aren’t profitable immediately,” he said to the Global Media Forum. 

“I think local reporting is hugely, hugely important for democracy. I think it is still vastly underrecognized,” Synyder said. But he is confident that it’s a problem that can be solved.

Source: Deutsche Welle


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