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A former newsman's powerful artwork about ghost newspapers
Tim Atseff, once a ranking editor at the Syracuse Herald-Journal, mourns the decline of local newspapers
One of the themes of my work in recent years has been the decline of local newspapers and the damage that has done to democracy. I lived that story in my three-decade career at my hometown paper, The Buffalo News, where the newsroom staff is about a third of what it was during my 12 years as top editor.
My 2020 book, “Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy,” tells the tale.
It’s incredibly sad and worrisome, although there are some bright spots in the local news picture, too, with the growth of digital sites and quite a bit of philanthropic support coming the way of local journalism.
Tim Atseff, who was a high ranking editor at the Syracuse Herald-Journal (which was absorbed into the city’s Post-Standard many years ago), retired from the news business in 2011.
He reset his life and returned to his roots as a visual artist. Atseff got in touch with me recently and sent me some of his artwork that illustrates the demise of local newspapers. I found it powerful and wanted to share some of it here; Tim — who has had solo exhibitions of his work and has participated in juried shows — kindly agreed.
Let us know what you think. And tell me what your sources of local news are, and how satisfied you are with those sources. Thanks for subscribing and caring about these issues!