Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Department of Navel-gazing: Or, Why You Should Subscribe to Your Local Newspaper

Al Diamon, a longtime political columnist and Downeast's residential media critic, soiled his annual reflection on the state of media in Maine with an indirect reference to this site.

Identified as one of three "[i]ndependent local news sites" (the others mentioned are in Rumford and Farmington), this site is credited for picking up some of the "slack left by cutbacks in the print media."

What Diamon wrote next, however, spawned a quasi-existentialist reflection of my own: "But what’s not always clear with these online news outlets is whether their main goal is to provide news or promote a political agenda. Still, lively but slanted coverage is almost as good as the balanced-but-boring kind and way better than the incidental-and-superficial sort."

Now, I'm perhaps in the minority of online dwellars (not to mention twenty-somethings) in that I have a subscription to my local papers, the Portland Press Herald and the American Journal. And beyond maintaining a subscription out of a sense of duty (one critical commenter on the forum, As Maine Goes, remarked that the only thing worse than having a crappy local newspaper to read is not to have a crappy local newspaper to read), my wife and I are subscribers because we actually enjoy thumbing through each edition of both papers, as well as others. The ideal morning, for instance, begins with an hearty breakfast and a newspaper sprawled across the table, while my wife and I bounce stories off one another. And unlike people who seemingly grouse about their newspapers any chance they can get, I appreciate the work they are doing. In fact, I will not hesitate to affirm the idea that this site would not exist if not for the boots-on-the-ground reporting of the much-maligned Press Herald or the underappreciated American Journal.

So Diamon is correct that I did not launch this site with the primary goal of providing news, largely because I don't think I'm capable of doing all the work daily reporters do, nor I am paid enough to do so. Indeed, despite my occasional dabbling in original reporting, I initially started this site as a portal of sorts to Westbrook-related news, as well as to add commentary to the happenings of the Paper City and to spawn conversation about the politics and culture of this fine city.

- John C.L. Morgan

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