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No-Newspaper Towns?



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There’s the real possibility that very soon we’ll start to see major metro areas without a newspaper. The owner of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that city’s remaining paper, has lost 97% of its market value over the past year and may no longer be a “going concern.” The two Detroit papers have suspended home delivery to only two or three days a week (might as well get rid of the football team while they’re at it). The Newark paper may shut down early next year. Conservatives and populists might cheer at the demise of these often-arrogant institutions but, as Paul Mulshine wrote this week in the WSJ, “the public will miss us once we’re gone.” Who’s going to cover meetings of the city council, the board of education, the zoning commission, the board of property assessment appeals and review, not to mention hearings of the state legislature’s finance committee? Local TV news is almost universally a joke. Local bloggers can’t do it — most of them have day jobs and often use the local paper’s output as their raw material. I don’t have any answer to these questions, but the problems are real — without sunlight as a disinfectant, tax-and-spend pols, crooked developers, and grasping unions are all going to be able to get away with a lot more than before.



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