Editorial: Help Wanted


Help Wanted

First, a heartfelt thanks to our many readers who have reached out to us with praise and appreciation for the steps we have been taking to make our print and digital publications a more informative and engaging community resource.

Now we are asking for your help in the next phase of our improvement efforts; please respond to a new survey designed to help us get a better sense of how our readers interact with our newspapers and website. Our intent is to discover what our readers most enjoy and what we could be doing better. In hopes that as many voices as possible will be heard, the survey has also been designed for non-readers—and sporadic readers—to complete as well. The more information we gather, the better able we will be to continue our efforts to make our papers—and their online counterpart, currently in the throes of re-design—vital and integral resources for our communities.

Our mission to serve our communities in the best possible manner is driven by the importance of preserving our locally-owned and independent publications in an era that has seen a steep decline in independent media across the country and the devastating loss to affected communities. Print and digital newspapers have been, and are being, taken over by hedge funds, poorly regulated offshore financial institutions that control the content of a third of the newspapers in the country, including the largest local newspaper chains—Tribune, McClatchy and Gannett. These funds have debts to pay, investors to please, and no interest in sustaining their purchases; they cut the staffs and bring in articles from far-away sister newspapers on far-away national subjects.

Since 2004, roughly 30 percent of newspapers in the U.S. have closed; most of the survivors have had their staffs and circulation slashed. More than three million people live in cities, towns and rural counties with no local news coverage.

These so-called “news deserts” have no local reporters keeping an eye on the issues most critical to their local democracy and quality of life. There is no forum for local discourse and no advertising medium for local businesses.

There is no record of local history, no community knowledge—births, deaths, families, businesses—no local opinion.

When a newspaper disappears, its readers become less connected. They participate less often in municipal elections; elections are less competitive; political polarization increases; corruption goes unchecked; government costs go up; disinformation becomes the norm. We must not let this happen. For 215 years, “The Freeman’s Journal” and, more recently, “Hometown Oneonta,” the only independent publications in Otsego County—supplemented digitally by AllOtsego.com—have kept local news in local hands, continuing to record the history and guide the future of our cherished local communities. Financial support of the local newspaper through subscriptions and advertising is nothing short of a critical investment in the community. Community support makes the newspaper better able to meet community needs and expectations. We hope as much of our citizenry as possible will respond to this survey and support our efforts to keep our print and digital publications the vital independent resources that every community deserves.

Please follow this link to the survey, allotsego.wufoo.com/forms/reader-survey, and let us know what you think. Your input is very important and we thank you for your consideration.

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