We are all familiar with community newspapers, those newspapers that provide news coverage and community information to many small and medium-sized communities across the nation. They provide a source of connection and identity to the communities that they serve. The key is that they represent a unifying institution within the community. They understand the variations within the community and spend more time finding common ground than polarizing the community.
There is also an understanding between the community and the newspaper that certain journalistic and editorial values will be followed. There is expected to be some degree of objectivity and fact checking when possible with both sides of an issue being represented accurately. The editorial pages, in their editorials, columnists and cartoons, are expected to do more than simply represent the personal views of the owners and editors…they are expected to be sensitive to the community readers and provide insight more connected to journalistic standards rather than political positions.
It is especially detrimental to the community when the editorial choices of topics, columnists and cartoons are so clearly representative of a polarizing political position without much concern for the readership that does not espouse that view.
People want access to the information and connective qualities of community newspapers but, when the ownership and editorial positions become too far off-center for a community, people begin to resentthat this is how their community is being represented to others outside of the community and that there subscription moneys are used to foster a position that neither they nor a majority of the community hold. Some might resent the tacit support of those positions that their subscriptions represent and question the wisdom of continuing their support of the paper. It is sad when a community newspaper pushes people to those considerations.