It’s a mantra folks have long used to highlight the importance of supporting hometown businesses. In an era of big-box retail chains and online outlets, buying goods and services from members of the community in which you live is more important than ever.
But there’s a corollary to that whole shop-local phenomenon, one that is frequently overlooked in this era of hyper-partisan media hysteria over labels like “enemy of the people” and “fake news.”
If you’re serious about the merits of shopping locally, then don’t forget to support local journalism, too.
As tempting — and lazy — as it may be to accuse your local newspaper of being nothing but a partisan rag, the fact is that unlike Fox News and MSNBC the vast majority of information contained in the pages of most local newspapers has nothing to do with national political affairs. Oh, there’s a smattering of that stuff, but the overwhelming amount of space in the Standard-Examiner, for example, is dedicated to hyper-local news and information. Local governments. Local businesses. Local sports. Local arts and entertainment. Local opinions.
All of it produced by local reporters, writers, photographers and editors. Supporting your local news source is a textbook example of the shop-local ethos.
So then, how can you support local journalism? Three ways come to mind:
1. Advertise with your local newspaper.
If you’re in a position to do so, buy an ad once in awhile. More often, where possible.
In addition to writing these weekly opinion pieces, I’m also the arts and entertainment editor here at the Standard-Examiner. And it never ceases to amaze me the number of for-profit organizations and individuals who think they’re entitled to free publicity in the GO! section.
It's the height of irony to hear concert promoters, restaurant owners and the like all but demanding we support their local endeavors by giving them stories in the paper, and yet they're unwilling to return that support by purchasing ads.
Bottom line: Those who advertise with their hometown newspaper are helping to fund quality local journalism.
2. Subscribe to your local newspaper.
Purchasing a newspaper or digital subscription also helps fund the local news-gathering process. In this internet age people seem to think information should be free. But as with other things in life, you generally get what you pay for.
The news gathering process isn’t cheap — not when you do it right, anyway. Buying a subscription shows that you value coverage of local news and helps ensure that such coverage continues.
3. And finally, give the gift of time to your local newspaper.
Although purchasing a newspaper ad or a subscription is always nice, there are other ways of supporting local journalism that won’t cost you a dime. Like, say, spending a part of your daily online time with your newspaper.
You don’t have to be a subscriber or an advertiser to be able to go to www.standard.net and access most of the content there, for free. Bookmark it, visit it regularly. Because the more content you click on and read, the more it helps your local newspaper.
And by all means, please help make this local news coverage a two-way street. Don’t like something in the news? Let us know. Have a question about something you read? Let us know. Got a story idea? You guessed it, let us know.
But please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t let us know on Facebook.
Yes, I know we have a Standard-Examiner Facebook page. And I also know people love to comment there. But when you spend time commenting on our Facebook page, the only business that benefits is Facebook.
And that’s definitely not shopping local.
So if you really want to help, go directly to www.standard.net whenever you’ve got something to say. The newsroom staff — including this Luddite of a columnist — has committed to being more responsive to readers' comments and questions going forward.
Plus which, interacting with your favorite (or, let’s face it, least favorite) journalist is now easier than ever with our brand spankin’ new reader comment system, The World Table. It’s easy to use, and you can sign up in no time at the bottom of any of our stories. All you need is an email address or a social media account.
Wanna make a difference in your community? Shop local. Wanna help others make a difference in your community?
Support local journalism.