Archives » July 30th, 2006

July 30, 2006

Local Ain’t Easy, But It Is Dumb

Jeff Jarvis on the “dumbing down” of newspapers. Small town papers across the country are printing less national and world news, and more local news. Some people see this as a bad thing, saying that only “dumb” people want local news, and “smart” people want to know what’s going on in New York, Washington D.C., and overseas. Jeff sees it just the opposite. Local papers should focus on local news. Leave the national stories to the New York Times and the internet.

Shafer assumes that local is dumb, which is to say that national and foreign is smart. That is a coastal prejudice: What happens in Washington, New York, and maybe once a month in L.A. is important and everything inbetween, in the flyover, is just dumb.

Shafer is also revealing his assumption about journalism: that the big, national story is closer to real journalism; the rest is just dumb.

Maybe the local papers didn’t lose the smart people. Maybe they lost the people who didn’t care about local anyway. Or maybe they lost the snots. Or Yankees fans.

I like having local news in the local paper. Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? Now that all the big national stories are covered to death on the internet, I don’t need to read about them in the paper. Do you know which sections of the paper I skim over in about three seconds? The National and World sections. Because they’re full of nothing but AP stories, stories I can find anywhere. But the local news, the news about what’s happening in Carson City or Gardnerville? There’s only one source for that. That’s what the paper should be focusing on.

I guess I just care more about what’s happening in Carson City than what’s happening in New York (yuck) or Washington D.C. (double-yuck). If that makes me “dumb”, so be it.