Testin signs his Oath of Office in January, 2021, with wife Hannah by his side. (Contributed)

Column: Community news outlets need your support

This column was written by request in support of National News Literacy Week, Jan. 22-26

By State Senator Patrick Testin

It’s no secret that newspapers – especially our smaller community publications – are on life support.

According to the Medill Local News Initiative’s 2023 State of Local News Report, the United States lost an average of 2.5 newspapers per week last year, which is up from 2022’s weekly average of two. 

Nearly 2,900 newspapers in the country have ceased operations since 2005, with more than 130 confirmed closings or mergers over the past year. Of those 130, about 100 were weekly publications, which generally are the only provider of local news in small and mid-sized communities. 

Consequently, our nation has lost almost two-thirds of its print journalists – or 43,000 – since 2005. Most of these reporters were employed by large metro or regional daily newspapers.

During the early 1900s, approximately 24,000 weekly and daily newspapers were being circulated in the United States. We are now down to 6,000, and many of those are struggling to survive due to a collapse in advertising revenue and a decline in readership, particularly amongst our younger generation.

Sadly, those hardships are going to continue to exacerbate the influx of news deserts – geographical areas that have few or no news outlets and receive little media coverage. 

Researchers with the Medill Local News Initiative contend that – in most instances – when a local newspaper closes its doors, residents will not get a replacement. Of the 3,143 counties in our nation, more than 50 percent have either no local media or only one remaining publication. 

Community newspapers are the primary – if not sole – source of credible information that people can use to become more civically engaged and to make informed decisions that impact their daily lives. 

Those without that luxury are compelled to wade through countless articles and utilize their media literacy skills to determine which outlets are accurate and trustworthy. With the amount of misinformation we are bombarded with every single day, most people do not have the time to put in that level of effort. 

Fortunately for our area, we still have excellent local newspapers like the Point/Plover Metro Wire that are fair and balanced and continue to shine the light on everything that is happening in our communities. Without them, our family, friends and neighbors would be lost.

That is why it’s so vital for us to maintain our support for our local newspapers. Because without it, they could be forced to pull the plug as well.

Patrick Testin
State Senator
24th Senate District