Local, small town newspapers may tell more than you might think, perhaps especially in what they don’t say. I know. I worked for a small town paper in east-central Alabama, wrote freelance articles for another half-dozen papers, and have generally followed smaller, local publications anyway. And one thing’s for sure: Small town papers respond to and cover what’s important to local residents. After all, it’s their bread and butter.
For example, the paper I worked for ran a few AP (Associated Press) articles, but for the most part covered very typical small town stuff. You know, last night’s high school basketball game, the latest meeting of the garden club, town council and country commission meetings, a new traffic light to be installed at a “heavy” traffic intersection. Typical stuff for small town papers.
However, and this is important, if a larger issue directly affected our area, we’d report on it. For example, when I was with the paper we had an issue with water usage along the Chattahoochee River. The city of Atlanta was sucking up large quantities of water from the River, thus lowering water levels along the Chattahoochee further south. This directly impinged upon our area, so … we reported on it, albeit from a local perspective.
This is true, I believe, of most local papers, especially smaller ones. Ordinarily you expect them to report on typical, small town matters. They should. Again, it’s their bread and butter. Subscribers can, and do, easily get national and international news from the larger papers, from radio, television networks, and now the Internet. Consequently, what they want from their local paper is … well, local news. Period.
This is a big part of the reason I delved into local, small town newspapers in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, particularly focusing along the Mexican border, when trying to determine whether or not there is really a crisis there. And what did I find? I ended up searching through more than 40 such papers and found only a handful, perhaps six or seven, that addressed border issues and illegal immigration at all, and those publications pretty much offered the same conclusion: There is no crisis along the border.
What really struck me, though, was the fact that out of those 40+ papers I consulted, the overwhelming majority had nothing whatsoever to say about any border problems, illegal immigration, drugs and crime (supposedly) flooding in from Mexico. Nothing. Period. So because of my own background, I knew there must not really be any “crisis” at all.
You see, I know that if there really were, and if it were directly impacting those towns and cities, the papers would be reporting it. The silence, in this case, told me more than what was reported in those other, very few local publications. Add to this the fact that, according to other larger news outlets, residents along the border are actually reacting negatively to the (false) claim that there’s a “crisis” and you know with hardly any doubt that this frenzy has been manufactured by our current President.
Sad, really, but before signing off on this article, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all of the honest, hard working, small town newspaper reporters, who keep their constituency informed so well day after day, week after week. They deserve our applause and our respect!
Read “Beyond Washington: What the Locals Have to Say About the Border ‘Crisis’” and “Beyond Washington: What the Locals Have to Say About the Border ‘Crisis,’ Part II“