Blogs, social media outlets and the internet in general have provided excellent examples of why a person doesn’t need to subscribe to their weekly (FREE) paper — the information is already out there, or at least only the important information. Right? Wrong!
What you may be watching on FOX news or CBS may seem just as important, if not, more dangerous than the average letterhead in this small town, but are they really providing you with the information you need? Not necessarily.
Do you suddenly understand everything that is going on in your local City Council meetings? Do you have a complete, competent understanding of how much we have in our general fund, or how a general fund even works? Did you know that if everyone who lived in Patterson alone contributed one dollar to Seth Fairchild and Samantha Calvert — two young high school students battling cancer — they would have reached their medical goals by now?
Though the local news may not be as exciting as a filmed car chase, it is entirely relevant and usually quite in depth. Just last week, our Facebook blew up with comments from concerned citizens, patronizing the dress code of pizza robber Troy Boutelle of Modesto after a release was sent out on the Patterson Irrigator website. Although most commenters were posting less than ideal points, the picture itself received widespread recognition, resulting in six tips where onlookers have identified Boutelle.
Boutelle came out of the woodwork himself, unable to hide while his picture was plastered in the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s log book.
Don’t get me wrong. Network and cable news does a pretty grand job of covering national stories, but they are not generally looking towards Patterson for their coverage area — unless there happens to be a dire constraint or serious accident. And although burglaries and hit and runs make for a marketable news source, what else could be said about that community?
A study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that 95 percent of stories with “new information” came from traditional media.
"Most of what the public learns is still overwhelmingly driven by traditional media - particularly newspapers," the study said.
But even so, traditional media has been hit hard by massive layoffs in recent years, which is both unfortunate and very unbecoming when you attempt to stay relevant. Newspapers are printing fewer stories than they did at the turn of the 20th century, while larger news sources use eight out of 10 stories that have been repeated, repackaged or previously published from other small town sources.