Does declining news coverage require us to help fill the void

In my days as a young reporter for a couple of the big L.A. dailies, I guess I assumed that newspapers would be around forever. Yes, we were assured in those days, newspapers were here to stay. Well, you see where that notion has gone.

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Perhaps the most recent example of how news publications are struggling to stay relevant (and alive) relates to the announcement that a substantial number of journalists at The Arizona Republic, as well as fellow staff members at other newspapers around the U.S., were holding a one- or two-day walkout to protest low wages and demand a change in the management of Gannett, the country’s largest newspaper chain and owner of our state’s most prominent, longest established print entity.

For lack of a better description, news like this suggests a future with declining journalistic oversight of those who oversee the changes that are sure to come. Thus, the potential for widespread loss of trained journalists brings us closer to the very real possibility that the bulwark of serious news reporting is becoming more and more endangered.

Certainly some small community-based publications might see this as an opportunity for them to fill what appears to be a growing void in local coverage. Nothing could be further from reality. Small, neighborhood-centric newspapers like ours do not have the capacity to fill voids in  traditional news coverage that inevitably will come from fewer trained journalists.

So here’s our dilemma: do we somehow try to change our focus, and the economics thereof, to enter the realm of more hard-hitting coverage? In conversations with our staff, including the young news writers and photographers who we’ve consulted on this subject, the universal answer seems to be no. Hard-edged news coverage, they say, is not what our readership expects from a publication that has a history of telling upbeat, positive stories—stories about neighbors helping neighbors; businesses taking the pulse of their established followers and using that information to provide a customer-friendly environment in which to shop for and have confidence in needed products and services.

So what to do, what to do.

Because we’ve assured you many times in the past that we plan to continue being your go-to source of neighborhood news for years to come, we also want to be sure that what we’re doing is what you want from a newspaper that has arrived in your driveway every two weeks for more than three decades.

Yes, we pride ourselves on having provided what we consider to be one element of the communications glue that holds this community together, despite the incredible growth and the changes that have occurred, especially while we’ve occupied our offices on Warner Road across from GoDaddy for almost 20 of these past 30 years in business.

At the same time, though, we consider our readers to be partners in the direction we take this publication in the years to come.

Do you have thoughts about how Wrangler News might continue to play a worthwhile role in the ever-evolving universe that encompasses the neighborhoods of Tempe and West Chandler? If you do, we’d love to hear from you.

– Don Kirkland

Don Kirkland
Don Kirkland
Don Kirkland realized in elementary school that his future would revolve around the written word. His first newspaper job was with a small L.A.-area daily whose publisher demanded the kind of journalistic integrity that ultimately led him to be the admired press director for both a governor and a U.S. President. Don later was employed by Times-Mirror Corp. and, in Arizona, was executive editor of the Mesa Tribune after its purchase by a major East Coast chain. He founded Wrangler News 30 years ago and has dedicated his work to preserving the vital role of community newspapers.



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