Long live local news

By Lindsay Advocate

Creative destruction. That’s what the Austrian-born economist, Joseph Schumpeter wrote about in the 1950s as a theory of economic innovation. That’s what our society is in the middle of right now, as we undergo an information revolution in many ways, but most certainly in how we consume news at a mass level.

It’s been 10 years since The Lindsay Post fell, as the Advocate’s Nancy Payne writes about in our cover story this month. The Post was certainly a victim of these forces. But using terms like creative destruction has a smug detachment about it. Analyzing this only through the long lens of history ignores the fact that there were real, local people who were affected. Journalists and support staff lost their jobs; readers lost a piece of their community.

In Social Media and Democracy Rasmus Kleis Nielsen and Richard Fletcher write that “empirical research suggests that independent, professionally produced news has helped inform the public, helped people make sense of the world through analysis, interpretation…and helped members of the public…see themselves as part of a community.”

What do we have now, in the main? A digital-first media environment that is increasingly defined by algorithmically-based kinds of personalization.

In the not-so-old days, most of us learned about things going on from a direct discovery of the news. If we didn’t just rely on television, then we picked up a newspaper or magazine and read its curated content and became informed of local or national issues.

But if people rely only on social media, we now only discover the content we are fed. That is dangerous for democracy, as Fenelon’s Tim Wisener points out in this edition’s ‘Lunch with Roderick Benns’ feature.

The Advocate is not immune to the forces that killed the Post, but we are better poised to succeed, simply because we are small and independent. We do not require massive sums of money needed to fund a huge corporation. As long as we continue to have the support of our community, we look forward to serving Kawartha Lakes for many years to come.

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