(Admittedly, there had been some abuse of the online comments and the
publisher did save money in the short term by dropping any moderator
effort from the payroll costs.)
Local news doesn't want to include audience participation from as far away as another time zone, or another state, but even then, geographic exclusions aren't an entirely correct exclusion criteria, since former residents of a local region may wish to participate from afar, because they still tune into home town news, after moving to new territory.
Real world names freeze out lots of participation, because taking ownership of an "incorrect" (contentious) opinion can have permanent consequences to one's reputation.
The real name and/or social credibility fix, is a blunt force trauma solution, to keep out obnoxious people, and isolate discourse to limited subgroups. But another problem is, even without being obnoxious, non-professional participants frequently go off-topic and off-script.
Pseudonyms almost certainly require painstaking, labor intensive moderation, and a skillful attention devoted to selectively ascribing relevance to conversation.
Most local operations just want to know there's an audience with a pulse, but providing that audience with a platform and a voice is another matter entirely.
I wonder if requiring a third-party “real person” auth like Facebook wouldn’t be so detrimental (in the contrxt of this discussion) if your user account could be publicly anonymous. For example, the site owners know who you are, but the comments section just sees whatever name/avatar you’ve chosen for that particular site.
A gated community, but you don’t have to wear a name tag once you’re in? I suspect those are already in use, if anyone has examples feel free to share.
I don't think the rational basis for the nuance of that negotiation would reach end users or site owners. Both would likely complain that it offers no assurance of safety, and remains a disappointing compromise.
The choice to adopt nuanced tactics in furtherance of rewarding communication requires nuanced personalities at the reigns.
Sounds like a conflict of interest, to get money from the government. Also, artificially propping up old ways of doing business is a rickety foundation. Newspapers as we know them occupy a narrow slice in world history. It's not like we have always had newspapers from the beginning of time up until now.
Let's investigate natural ways to accomplish the same goal of newspapers, but with our current technology. The internet has obliterated costs to publish. Compare a building full of typesetters, Linotypes, and printing presses, to WordPress and server rental. Now that doesn't address all of a newspaper's old expenses. There is still the staff: reporters spending days and weeks investigating a story, editors organizing and refining. But what does the Press, invented from scratch with our current technology, look like? I think you have to consider the different sections of an old newspaper one at a time:
1. Product reviews. Seems that there is still plenty of that, between the various specialized websites and bloggers and vloggers.
2. Lifestyle. Again, we are drowning in such coverage, like on Youtube.
3. Sports. I don't know, I don't keep up with sports. How is sports news faring?
4. Business news. Again I don't know and don't care. Someone else comment.
and finally, biggest of all:
5. The main example and, to many, the raison d'etre for news: keeping government and businesses honest, by sniffing out corruption.
Maybe the new way is without the middleman. Instead of government insider speaking anonymously to a reporter, the insider anonymously posts the leak himself.
Nor is there any conflict of interest between receiving money from the government and covering the government. If you believe the courts can be independent then you can believe that newspapers can be set up as independent entities. If you don’t believe that the courts can be independent then you are essentially saying that you don’t believe in the existence of liberal regimes, which takes us into a discussion regarding how much purity needs to be achieved by an ideal before one is willing to recognize its existence — an interesting topic but too broad to be discussed in comments on a website.
The country's legal foundations have been constructed from the ground up to support and allow for a relatively-independent judiciary. You can't have just hand-wave all that away and act like the same level of independence will apply to private entities that take government subsidies.
It sounds like it's "remembering more details about political events" that you really want to save. Are you sure newspapers are the only way to accomplish that?
I oppose using my tax dollars to fund reporting about my tax dollars. NPR, for example would never report fairly on debates to eliminate subsidies for NPR. Their reporting will never support going against their own best interests. Would the BBC be trusted to fairly report on any proposal to cut the budget for the BBC? Never. To think otherwise is to live in a dream world.
It is the fundamental job of the government to provide all of the essential services that a society needs -- healthcare, courts, police, housing, information gathering, transportation, mail, water, electricity, garbage collection, protection of the environment, flood control, social insurance, and so much more -- all human activity.
Some of the decisions regarding these activities should be handled by decentralized decision making. That is, sometimes the government governs best by outsourcing some of the decision making to other entities. But when we speak of the private sector, we are speaking of just one kind of decentralized decision making. It can be very convenient in some cases to make use of the private sector, but we should not make a fetish of it. There are many other forms of decentralized decision making, including all of those forms that have yet to be discovered, but which will be explored in the future. To say that this one particular form of decentralized decision making is the only form which should be allowed is the same kind of mistake that leads some computer programmers to insist that Ruby On Rails is the ultimate solution to all forms of computer programming, and therefore Ruby On Rails should be used to solve all problems of computing. That kind of fetish can only lead to bad results. Wisdom dictates that we examine the issue on a more general and broader level.
On the other hand, if your political system by law cannot cut funding to particular papers serving x customer base without cutting funding to all of them, it is harder to do such things. A newspaper in a city of 40,000 in northern Indiana couldn't be cut for reporting stuff the government does without the same thing happening for all the newspapers of around the same size in that state - or across the country, if that was where the funding came directly from instead of block grants that are popular.
You can legislate some protections into the law, after all. And you can push for this stuff.
As far was the "I oppose using my tax dollars to fund..." Unfortunately, tax dollars aren't something one can line-item. Everyone pays for things with their tax dollars that they'd rather not pay for. It is part of paying taxes. I'd rather not pay for lifetime health insurance for a congressman that serves one term, for example. I'd rather not pay for unnecessary military gear nor wars for that matter. But I understand these are part of paying taxes. Even if one is politically active and they talk to their representitives often, these things will always be the case. Just because everyone doesn't agree with everything doesn't mean much.
Even if that's true, wouldn't their budget be the only thing that applies?
If you could guarantee that NPR/PBS/BBC/CBC/ABC was a completely independent entity, publicly funded but otherwise completely divorced from the government, then the only issue with which they would have a direct conflict of interest would be themselves / their budget.
That seems like a much better situation than what we currently have, where only large multinational corporations fund media, and therefore almost everything is a conflict of interest every single day.
The BBC is indeed trusted to report on this, as well as scandals within the BBC that have happened from time to time.
There's a way to fix that. Until recently, it was common for certain announcements, requests for public comment, etc etc to go in the paper, which meant buying classified space. (Whether it's on physical paper or on your phone is sort of a moot point.)
This has no conflict of interest concerns. It doesn't solve the whole problem, but it gives you away to boost a public good without being a direct subsidy.
I can put it up on my web site. Nobody will see that, unless I sneak it into the urandom article, and 99% of its readers wouldn't care, because most don't even know where in Germany that region is.
I can post on Twitter. My circa 100 followers probably won't retweet it. Now what?
This doesn't replace journalists/reporters as witnesses to local government activities.
Thinking back to my hometown's newspaper, I don't think it ever covered high school sports, only professional sports.
Even village-level sports rarely got more than a passing mention (if that) in the local paper.
If that is currently happening in America, it doesn't seem like a huge loss.
Young parents will subscribe to the paper for that reason alone.
At the end of the day, it's the coverage of government and related things that directly affect the lives of the citizens. Human interest etc. is nice but it's optional (and is relatively easy in any case).
Web advertising only became viable with the birth of persistent tracking. Twitter’s struggle to monetize underscore that. Persistent tracking is only possible because government in the US has adopted a prevailing policy of remaining hands off for most business matters.
That can change with the stroke of a pen. If Google or Facebook found themselves unable to gather comprehensive dossiers on all humans, their business models would implode.
As much as I love NPR, the last entity you want to own or fund a news organization is the government, because it's very easy to slip towards state propaganda.
There's one big problem about the "new way without the middleman", and it goes to the central function of a news organization, which is judgment, curation, and sniffing out BS. When we lose local news orgs, we lose that filter (for better and for worse).
The filter has several functions:
* tell us what a seasoned reporter thinks is true after years on a beat, by not including the BS;
* connect the dots between current news and other events (tell the bigger story to help me understand why something matters);
* save the readers time, because the readers don't have time to wade through all the verbose, partisan, poorly edited anonymous blogs. News organizations exist to highlight and synthesize and summarize. When they die, we lose that. Removing the middleman is really removing the people doing the labor of condensing many disparate points of view and the flat confusion of facts.
As local news organizations die, we will have less engaged communities on every level, and more corrupt local institutions, and that will lead to greater stagnation and inequity in the US. It's already a huge problem, and it will get worse.
The federal government does not own NPR. It is a 501c3 organization. It does not receive any direct federal funding, though it does receive competitive grant funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which amounts to a low single digit percentage of its $200M annual revenue.
If the funding amount is so insignificant, then it shouldn’t matter if it is cut right? Yet, propose cutting that spending and we quickly see that government funding is pretty significant in importance, if one listens to the impassioned arguments defending it.
It’s a “low single digit” of their revenue, but apparently that low single digit is so significant that you have near riots over killing Big Bird if it were cut.
It's not that cuts to public radio is unthinkable, but when someone proposed they will fix the federal budget by cutting NPR (0.0001% of the budget) they are looking for a fight, not really trying to solve the problem.
Better move would be there force more government transparcy. So it doesn't require reporters digging around to find truth. Record sessions post all votes, actions, studies, proceeding etc. On line in easy to machine parse format. There are plenty of people who would analyse and report on that data for fun or out of sense of Civic duty. It happens now.
It's not perfect but a big step.
You know that BBC or a directly-government-funded PBS has one set of biases, but if you add the also-biased coverage of the same event from Xinhua or RT, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
I don't see it working for local news though-- there's not going to be multiple governments with balancing biases covering funds misappropiration in the local school district.
And there's the problem: No, somebody does NOT have to do this work. It is beneficial to society if someone does local journalism, agreed. But if there is no viable economic model for it, then it will disappear. Perhaps the most likely alternative right now, if there's going to be significant local new coverage, is government-subsidized journalism, but that clearly will not be doing any in-depth investigation of those in power in that government. And I don't think that most governments are thinking about doing that anyway. I think the most likely outcome is what is happening: local journalism will, for the most part, completely disappear.
I also recommend Clay Shirky's "Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable" : http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/03/newspapers-and-thinking... - I think he clearly explains why this is happening, not because the newspapers didn't see it coming, but because the fundamental economic forces have proven irresistible.
I disagree with the point made repeatedly in the comments here that government funded media can't work. NPR, PBS, the BBC, and CBC all routinely perform investigative reporting on the very governments that fund them. Additionally, it would take a pretty wild set of circumstances for a federal government official to squash reporting into a corrupt water board member in Utah. If that happens, maybe that stone will go unturned, but if we do nothing nearly every stone will go unturned.
I would love to live in a world where it was possible not to have the conflict of interest that public funding creates, but it is abundantly clear that the options before us right now are publicly funded local news and very much less local news. I think public funding is the right answer.
Maybe we'll get lucky and a plucky Stanford dropout will figure out a way to make local journalism profitable, but I'm not interested in waiting for that.
1. Increased general interconnected nature of the world. People still care about local events of course, but there is a much greater concern for the big events of the whole world now. Your likelihood of being affected by the big news in some far away place has increased greatly and at an accelerating pace ever since the beginning of the 20th century.
2. That interconnected nature has become exponentially greater as the internet has rolled out. Before, your source to world events would still be your local newspaper/radio/television but primarily driven through aggregators (AP/UPI/major news TV/radio networks). Now people have the ability to get directly to the original more local sources. The odd secondary effect of this is that it has reduced the size of the local news sources in the first place.
3. Increased partisanship hasn't helped. People are much more likely to abandon a news source if they feel it is biased, true or not, ans they have other options now.
All of these together mean that news of all varieties has been heavily disrupted, but the long term replacement hasn't become readily apparent. I can't think of a similar system of disruption in other industries.
> It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem...
> Print media does much of society’s heavy journalistic lifting, from flooding the zone — covering every angle of a huge story — to the daily grind of attending the City Council meeting, just in case. This coverage creates benefits even for people who aren’t newspaper readers, because the work of print journalists is used by everyone from politicians to district attorneys to talk radio hosts to bloggers. The newspaper people often note that newspapers benefit society as a whole.
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I'll guess it has more to do with the originating IP address (e.g. perhaps lots of requests from a single IP behind a firewall) or maybe something to do with cookies (I allow all but delete all at least once daily, so I never have old cookies lingering around). I'm in the USA so geolocation might enter into it as well.
Without journalists digging through property records or attending city council meetings, looking for official wrongdoing and revealing secret deals, local politicians will operate unchecked—with predictable consequences.
Now, at least it seams, the only coverage we get from Mercury News is the police blotter. That's it. Nothing more. If I want anything about Campbell I have to subscribe to Twitter, Campbell City specific website, Campbell City specific events website, Campbell City specific paper local newspaper [I'm not kidding], and I'll make an educated guess Facebook. I'd mention Reddit, but that's on questionable life support because of one or two users based on aforementioned sources sourced from myself included.
My point is... the point of the article, if at least the Hacker News title, is correct. And I'm not even including stuff like "Patch" or "NextDoor" or other hyper-local internet-based networks there are. Subscriptions mushroom like a nuclear blast horror in the face of alternatives.
I would actually welcome these outlying areas being merged in to the core city and a policy of doing the transit transfer tracking at the ports/roadway edges that connect out to other regions. That should also discourage founding new small fiefdoms as tax-dodges.
I would also finally be able to vote on things in the big city that affect my life, and maybe get those crazy anti-soda anti-cars/proper transit outside of the big city politicians replaced with someone that's looking at the big picture instead of a close-up.
This is a problem plaguing almost all comparative writing about cities and why the OMB defines MSAs and CSAs for performing meaningful like-like comparisons. (It's also for this reason that most ranked city lists are useless garbage built on the false premise that political borders are a good way to delineate towns for anything beyond politics.)
Another reality is that in a lot of areas... well, there's just not much to report on to begin with. Slow news days are quite common. Our local news station will actually call the fire and EMS stations and ask if anything is going on. If there's nothing going on, you'll know because the Facebook feed ends up reposting momsdaily or simplemost blog articles.
It's a failure of capitalism that the positive externalities of local news are not captured by the people who generate it (just like a failure of capitalism that the negative externalities of so many things aren't borne by those that generate it)
We're stuck right now with only two models, $15-30/mo subscriptions subsidizing hordes of non-payers, or ads.
All those news types have better and or free sources. With more depth and detail.
Problem with tradituinal news orgs are that they attempt to serve everybody so is generic, shallow. And thus very low value. Very low.
People now aren't willing to pay for those experts, so the only ones that cover the news are those with other agenda
Not saying it should. But it may be a valid question.
Trade in the output of farms and mines literally predates writing, and whether or not the same can be said for factories depends entirely on what you count as a factory.
The very same thing which allows rural farms in America to sell to American cities also allows rural farms outside America to sell to American cities. Likewise factories and mines.
My parent’s farm is in a town of 2000 people, their land is a 10 minute drive from town if direct. The nearest city is 2 hours driving. If you had to bus all the farmers to their different fields that would take all day. Oh, and these guys will have multiple properties scattered all over the map to attend to.
Really, the majority of America’s farm land is not near any city at all. Cities tend to push out and run farmers off. City planners see farm land as land that should be developed.
Then there are the small town people themselves. And the end of the day, none of those people want to live in a city. I live in a city, frankly, city life sucks.
If you switch to saying “we should do more urban farming”...which you should, please do. That works until you start talking about meat and dairy products. You probably don’t want animal operations inside a city (check out Chino, CA dairies), and even if you do, the feed for the animals will have to come from outside the city.
Also, they can't fit their gear in a backpack like most office workers. There's really only one option when your payload varies from hundreds or thousands of lbs to a few lbs, and that's living reasonably near your land, not to mention the variety of equipment that requires driving.
The frozen pizza right in front of me is 240 cal per hundred grams; assume the average American consumes 3000 cal per day and that pizza is a representative calorie density, 1.25kg per person per day = 148 million metric tons per year.
Googling now, USA ports handle 2.3 billion tons per year , so that’s fine. Internal transport I don’t even have to think about because you must already have it in place or you’d already be starving because you couldn’t get the food from your own farms to your own shops.
 Figure 3-2 https://www.bts.gov/sites/bts.dot.gov/files/docs/browse-stat...
And this article claims that the limiting factor is transportation infrastructure, not food production:
If that's the case then it seems like it's definitely possible. The US has good transportation infrastructure.