Our view: Support local journalism, protect democracy


Photo courtesy of Wesley Hammer

Sydney Harper, Opinion Editor

In today’s world, the words “fake news” seem to be everywhere. Social media, biased news sources and people uneducated on the news they spread continue to perpetuate false narratives about so many important issues—all because of misinformation.  

As time goes on, we continue to see the rise of news outlets without proper sources and evidence. Especially when it comes to larger news sources like Fox News and CNN, bias and misinformation can be prevalent. News outlets are beginning to lose their credibility and fall victim to the scandals created by spreading false narratives and “fake news.”

Widely known news outlets with a larger audience and more journalists are losing the ability to produce news as well. With the rise of social media, more and more people are relying on an app like Facebook or Twitter rather than a journalist to give them their news. 

More people are willing to get their news from a Facebook post or a Tweet rather than a physical newspaper, according to a Pew Research Center study. Sure, having an instant outlet for information is important for spreading news but only when that information can be backed up by an actual source. 

Local news sources are feeling these effects even harder. Over the past few years, local newspapers, radio stations and news stations have laid off journalists, reduced their coverage and even closed entirely. Because of this, people are losing vital access to information on local issues since many local news outlets no longer exist. 

Over 65 million Americans live in counties with only one local newspaper or none at all, according to the Brookings Institution. This leads to people looking to sources like Twitter, Facebook, TikTok and Instagram for their daily news. While social media can provide some factual information, it can be incredibly hard to detect what is actually true. 

The pandemic is a prime example of this. People spread the idea of the COVID-19 vaccine being a “tracker,” which has no viable evidence and holds no merit. Additionally, people began believing the vaccine would cause birth defects or miscarriages. Again, there was no viable evidence to support this. The misinformation about birth defects was spread before any person who had received the vaccine would’ve had time to give birth.

While these rumors were spread by individuals, they all started either on the Internet or through news sources that couldn’t realistically back up their claims or provide any evidence. Yes, the vaccine was new, but many people had become so afraid of what would happen to them all because they were consuming misinformation. This is also just one example of the countless incorrect sources and news stories that have circulated throughout the years. 

At The News, we believe everyone, including journalists could do a better job at verifying right from wrong. We live in a world of constant consumption, but many of us are unwilling to look into what we are ingesting or read peer-reviewed, professional research about the topics we care about. Especially when it comes to misinformation about political issues, we may find ourselves looking into incorrect sources and believing in false narratives. 

Local news outlets excel at statewide coverage but are often overshadowed by larger news outlets and social media. As a result, local journalism is becoming increasingly more invisible. 

Local journalism is an outlet for positive and factual reporting, and without it, we would miss important information about local government, our school systems, community events and more. Local journalism is important for remaining informed while maintaining our democracy. Civic engagement will also remain intact as a result of the public becoming more informed. 

Supporting local journalism is incredibly important. Keeping local journalism alive will ensure positive media coverage and verified information. Having news sources at our fingertips is important to keeping journalism alive, but we need to ensure these sources aren’t spewing incorrect and inconsistent information to uninformed readers.