May 5, 2023 | OPINION | By Brett LeVan
Our Colorado College bubble is ever present. The tendency to get sucked in and cancel out the world around us can become too easy – a problem not just CC students face.
The Future and Sustainability of Local News during Block 7, a class at CC taught by Professor Corey Hutchins, dives into the collapse of local news. Journalists and news staff from all over the United States presented, both on Zoom and in-person, on how local news is dying and how that comes with catastrophic repercussions.
Newspapers are one of the biggest foundations of democracy. Without newspapers, citizens become less informed, less receptive to events around them, and can lose connection to communities rooted in shared local news.
The Colorado Springs Independent, a left-leaning, alternative weekly newspaper in Colorado Springs, was just recently on the brink of collapse; while converting into a non-profit, the organization discovered a major accounting error, and relies now on its reader membership for its survival. The Indy contrasts the Colorado Springs Gazette, the right-leaning daily newspaper in Colorado Springs owned by a billionaire. How do we become more locally focused and informed when the only non-corporately owned newspaper in the greater Colorado Springs community is hardly surviving?
According to The Washington Post Magazine, “The state of local journalism is widely, and correctly, understood to be grim. About 2,200 local print newspapers have closed since 2005, and the number of newspaper journalists fell by more than half between 2008 and 2020. In many places where papers still exist, a lack of resources prevents them from reporting thoroughly on issues vital to the community – issues like public safety, education and local politics.”
It is crucial for local communities to have a communal space often found in newspapers – yet recent events have worsened a divide within communities. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the collapse of newspapers, with The New York Times writing, “Over 360 newspapers in the United States have gone out of business since just before the start of the pandemic.”
The closure of so many local print newspapers and the cut of more than half of newspaper journalists within the past 12 years has led to under-reported communities, as well as newsrooms that lack diversity.
The collapse of local print newspapers has resulted in a lack of shared knowledge and a shared community, which can provoke fear and total disconnect.
How fear, discomfort, and shared knowledge exist within society is foundational. Not only do individuals rely on newspapers to inform them about the community around them, but there is also an importance for every individual to be represented in the news around them. However, that is not always the case.
So, what can be done?
CC is an economic and privileged powerhouse in a very financial- and class-diverse city. CC doesn’t necessarily represent the greater Colorado Springs community.
However, as educated students who chose to spend four years in this unique and rapidly changing city, trying to escape the CC bubble and find ways to dive deep into the issues frequently unbeknownst to us will not only make us successful, but also could contribute to the long-term success of the media industry here in Colorado Springs.