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Editorial: Invest in your local journalism

During a time when news outlets are letting go of staff, decreasing or eliminating their print product and losing advertisements to sites like Facebook, it is more important now than ever to invest in local journalism. 

As current journalists, we at The Scout feel it is our duty to ask our readers to invest in journalism at the local level. 

According to a 2020 report by Penelope Muse Abernathy, the Knight Chair in journalism and digital media economics at the University of North Carolina, 2,100 newspapers in the country have been lost since 2004. That is roughly one-fourth of the nation’s newspapers. 

Between 2008 and 2019, newsroom employment dropped by 23 percent in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center

Before information was readily available on the internet, people paid for physical newspapers. What makes online news any different? Citizens should support their local journalists today just as they did back then.

Although it is important to keep up to date on current events on a national scale, it is just as, if not more, valuable to be aware of what is happening in your community. 

Events happen right where you live, and local news outlets cover everything from local business and light-hearted stories on residents to local politics and crime. This is critical information that we won’t find in The New York Times or The Washington Post. 

Journalists now are also more adaptable between the constantly evolving online platforms and all the changes the pandemic has brought about. 

Like most businesses in the past year, local newsrooms have adopted virtual practices, and it was a constant battle to get up-to-date information about the virus to keep the public informed. 

From the beginning of COVID-19 coverage — when it was about informing what the virus was and the possible symptoms — to present-day coverage of vaccine distribution and updating case numbers, local journalists have been there to write about it all. 

Many outlets made this coverage free, but it didn’t come without a cost. Since local businesses were closing, temporarily or permanently, newspapers were losing out on essential advertising funds. 

Instead of relying on advertising like newspapers did while print was the main product, they are more reliant on subscriptions to their online platform.

Again, with information being readily available online, local news outlets are competing with social media when it comes to disseminating information. However, this phenomenon contributes to the plague of misinformation. People that only go to social media for their news are most likely not prioritizing accuracy, newsworthiness and other important journalistic values. 

Social media users also tend to follow organizations and profiles that affirm their own beliefs. This makes it so that people can curate their own newsfeed.

In Peoria, the Peoria Journal Star covers news happening in the city and the surrounding area. Currently, it has a deal where the first 6 months of an unlimited digital access subscription is $1 and $7.99 after.

Other local news outlets in Peoria or in nearby towns include WEEK News 25, Central Illinois Proud, the Woodford Times, the Pekin Daily Times and the Glasford Gazette. 

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The Scout is published by members of the student body of Bradley University. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the University.