Nov 22, 2023Liked by Margaret Sullivan

I worked in newspapers, magazines, radio station newsrooms and websites for 35+ years. I just read this and instantly subscribed at the $50 annual level. I also shared it on social media with this note that I thought you might appreciate...

When I worked at the Kalamazoo Gazette in the late 80s there were 50-60 people in that newsroom—10 city desk reporters, three business writers (I was one), five sports guys, a feature section with full time fine arts, music, health, and TV/movie writers, four photographers…five or six grizzled veterans on the copy desk…and assorted clerks and interns… all of us convinced we were gonna break the next Watergate. Today? I bet there aren’t a dozen people in the MLive.com Kalamazoo newsroom… and I bet they’re almost all recent grads with little to no experience or institutional memory.

That makes it a great time to be a crook at any city, village, or township hall, or school district, in the coverage area. Journalism is vital to keeping American government honest and democracy healthy…and it’s dying. It’s so sick that even the goddamned vulture capitalists in “private equity” are giving up on it. It’s what gives us crooks like Santos. As I’m fond of saying, without reporters with time and resources at the Detroit News and Free Press, Kwame Kilpatrick is still mayor…or worse, in higher office.

What’s the solution? Damifino, but what this column describes is one possible answer. So is making journalism nonprofit, with philanthropic support.

If Trump gets put back in office of course none of this will matter, we’ll be a dictatorship with opposition press jailed or otherwise silenced. But in the meantime, journalism needs support from all of us. I subscribe to several print and digital media outlets. Do you?

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If we want a democracy, local (and national) news is an irreplaceable public service, and as the panel at the Albany discussion joked, is also an "unfunded mandate" of the Constitution. A free press will not survive without a solid base of public funding, keeping in mind that this also has its limits (e.g., government propaganda).

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The NYT remains my primary daily news. Fortunately, I live in the Bay Area which has good regional, local and hyper local news sources.

A concern is that local journalism could go the way of local tv news where Sinclair covers many areas. There so called news is not necessarily local; mostly regurgitated right wing tropes.

The avalanche of news right now is challenging to absorb. While I’ll dip in; this weekend I going to dive into Tom Lake by Ann Patchett.

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Hi, Margaret--Just started Linda Hirshman’s book on the abolitionist movement and am enjoying it very much. I do remain hopeful that after “Gale Force” (her name makes her sound a little like a drag queen!) you’ll come back to the project you started with Linda before her recent passing. Happy Thanksgiving!

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