Democracy seems to function best when its processes are transparent and public. Newspapers seemed essential, perhaps the main element in maintaining that transparency.
It appears now that newspapers are at a point where their energies are no longer going to be able to sustain the watchfulness necessary to contribute to that transparency.
The attention that once was given to newspapers as the main source of news is today disappearing so that this agency of democracy shall no longer be able to function in the end.
Milwaukee's north shore communities where pretty well covered only a few years ago. The separate papers gave us news as to what was happening within our local governments, balancing off the tendency toward government secrecy.
What is made public today is usually what our local governments want to be public.
The various shortcomings of democratic processes are more likely to be made public within a system of news gathering and distribution that our newspaper system once provided us.
The main newspaper of the Milwaukee area is unable to as thoroughly report on such communities as Shorewood, for example as it once did.
I try to keep as alert as possible as to what is going on in Shorewood but usually am unaware of even some of the meetings that our local government would welcome attendance.
I would suggest that a great portion, perhaps as much as 90%, only a figure to call attention to how large I think the proportion of what goes on, is behind “closed doors,” that is, in secrecy.
Therefore, the gradual declining newspaper situation has already begun to show its affect even on our democracy here in Shorewood. Yet I haven't read that anyone is coming up with a solution.
I've heard the term “bail out.” but I can't see government owning part of a system that is supposed to be reporting on what government is doing.
It seems that the citizens of local communities will have to find ways of establishing newspaper reporting for each of their communities. This may then lead the way to creating new systems in our larger cities.
Neighborhood and small community newspapers might then be coordinated within a larger regional establishment that would emphasis the importance of local community reporting and then collectively provide the required support to the provision of regional, national and international news.
How else are we going to know what our governments are doing, if no one is there to report it?
Perhaps we can start a system of citizen reporters to enhance our present reporting system until something evolves to fill the vacuum that is now developing.
I can see our future newspapers to be neighborhood and suburbian in nature, with the metropolitan paper on the inside. Does this sound a little bit backward or perhaps it's what might work?