Magazines and newspapers have been dying in slow motion for two decades now. Local news is in the midst of a long financial crisis; print media is continuously hit with layoffs and decreasing page counts, and ultimately, long-established magazines and papers are going belly-up.
More and more small towns and mid-sized cities have no local newspapers, and some have no magazines either. The remaining publications have downsized their staffs tremendously. This forces employees to wear several hats simply to make ends meet.
When I founded Katy Christian Magazine in 2005, two other local Christian magazines and a Christian yellow page were in circulation. Each of these publications is now defunct. Many other local publications have also perished or opted to maintain an online presence only.
When print media dies, America will suffer a great tragedy. I urge you all to remember that local publications provide unique and crucial services to the public. They recount the raw and earnest stories of the faces within our own communities. Moreover, they report on the regional events and news that national media conglomerates overlook. Studies show that when no local media is present, voter turnout lowers. City and state governments, left without the checking elements of local news, inevitably become corrupt.
Magazines have sputtered for years as their monopoly on readership and advertising is erased by Facebook, Google and other more nimble online competitors.
And yet most locals haven’t noticed. Seven in 10 Americans believe that their local news outlets are doing “very or somewhat well financially,” according to a new Pew Research survey.
This, to put it mildly, is a misconception.
Perhaps most alarmingly, as local journalistic establishments have fallen, they have not been replaced by a better system of news. Instead, no suitable replacement exists at all. And as they die off, many local residents are not even aware of it.
Once local news is entirely erased, the community will notice. They will long for the days of respectable journalism and local news coverage, but it will be too late.
Joseph R. Menslage
Fort Bend Christian Magazine