In a recent Pew Research Center report is the following:
As many newspapers struggle to stay economically viable, fewer than half of Americans (43%) say that losing their local newspaper would hurt civic life in their community “a lot.” Even fewer (33%) say they would personally miss reading the local newspaper a lot if it were no longer available.
Not unexpectedly, those who get local news regularly from newspapers are much more likely than those who read them less often to see the potential shutdown of a local paper as a significant loss. More than half of regular newspaper readers (56%) say that if the local newspaper they read most often no longer published — either in print or online — it would hurt the civic life of the community a lot; an almost identical percentage (55%) says they would personally miss reading the paper a lot if it were no longer available.
Is it somewhat telling that only 56% of regular newspaper readers think losing a newspaper would hurt civic life “a lot”? Only 56%? Just over half?
I admit that 56% is much higher than the 25% who thought it would hurt civic life “some.” But I have a hunch that had the survey asked reporters the same question, “a lot” would have totaled at least 90%. Pew’s results suggest to me that reporters and journalists have a disconnect of some kind with readers over how important their product is.
Some might say the source of that disconnect are people belittling the value of newspapers.1 Myself, I would blame apathy.
1. Parker is a perfect example of who those hypothetical 90%-plus of reporters might be. An example, from her column I linked to: “But the greater truth is that newspaper reporters, editors and institutions are responsible for the boots-on-the-ground grub work that produces the news stories and performs the government watchdog role so crucial to a democratic republic. “