The Midland Free Press closed its doors yesterday. Nothing much has been made of it. Another paper going under is not news these days. However, Kate Harris of AWARE Simcoe has a nice obit for the paper, and a few words of warning:
I was happy to be in the fine tradition of two centuries of local newspapers when there was a reporter sitting at every council meeting to write up the proceedings. The public was informed. Democracy was served. Now, many councils meet without any media in attendance. The P.R. machine substitutes for a free press. And it’s not free. On your tax dollar, Springwater Township - for instance - and Simcoe County each have a communications department whose job it is to write ‘news’ that makes the elected politicians look good. And the newspapers that survive print these ‘news’ releases without identifying them as P.R. hackery. After all, who can afford a reporter?
These items look just like news articles – and people respond to them as if they are the genuine article.
But they’re partisan and paid for – by the politicians, who they serve but ultimately, by you, the people, who have the most to lose when another newspaper bites the dust.