After killing local newspapers, the NYT mourns their death

From “How the Collapse of Local News Is Causing a ‘National Crisis’” (nytimes):

The loss of local news coverage in much of the United States has frayed communities and left many Americans woefully uninformed, according to a new report.

The report, “Losing the News: The Decimation of Local Journalism and the Search for Solutions,” paints a grim picture of the state of local news in every region of the country. The prelude is familiar to journalists: As print advertising revenue has plummeted, thousands of newspapers have been forced to cut costs, reduce their staffs or otherwise close.

And while the disruption has hampered the ability of newsrooms to fully cover communities, it also has damaged political and civic life in the United States, the report says, leaving many people without access to crucial information about where they live.

Who is responsible for what the New York Times calls a “national crisis”? (does this replace the “national emergency” of Trump being President or is it layered on top?) New Republic suggests that it is the New York Times itself that has killed local newspapers by wooing away their audience that had value to advertisers:

In fact, two economists studied this in 2006—at basically the peak of national newspaper ad revenue, just before the collapse—and found that “as Times circulation grows in a market, local newspaper circulation declines among college-educated readers.” In other words: The Times peeled off the elite readers from the local papers, leading them to read less about local news and more about national politics.”

Is it just that the NYT is doing a better job? What about the hysterical tone of the NYT in reporting national politics. The average American reader’s life will be turned upside down depending on who wins an election for President or Congress. Yet this is fundamentally a lie. The laws that affect the typical individual are state laws.

Consider the American who has sex with an already-married dermatologist. Will obtaining custody of the resulting child yield the spending power of a primary care physician’s salary (Massachusetts) or require going to work to supplement the roughly $200,000 in tax-free child support over 18 years (Nevada). The “lifetime of leisure” versus “lifetime of work” outcome following the sex act is entirely a function of state law, decided by state legislatures and officials. Consider what happens when the child of this brief, um, union reaches school age. What will be taught to this child, by whom, and in what kind of building? All questions of local or state law and/or local and state votes. Suppose the child becomes a teenager and is in possession of marijuana? Whether or not that is a crime and results in a prison sentence will be a question of state law (though with laws such as “Trump signs animal cruelty act into law” it is unclear why the entire criminal system isn’t federalized (animal cruelty is not related to interstate commerce or any other Constitutional provision as far as I can see)). What if, despite the dope smoking, the child is ready to go to a reasonably priced university? The funding and direction for that state-run university will be a function of state-level political decisions. The child graduates and, despite holding a degree in Cultural and Gender Studies, vies for a job at the local Starbucks. To the extent that minimum wage is above the local market-clearing wage, that will be a question of state law. After 22 years of life, it is difficult to see how the issues on which the NYT reports hysterically have had a major effect on this person.

17 thoughts on “After killing local newspapers, the NYT mourns their death

  1. When Phil G writes about sex and family, his thinking is not progressive! he does not go far enough! he never raises his voice to protect the vulnerable!

    Please note that sex with a person who transitioned from X to Woman and (often) from Woman to X with a little help from surgery and hormone therapy will not result in a frivolous lawsuit.

    Support taxpayer-assisted gender transition at 18! It’s a right, not privilege!

  2. Much as I appreciate anything that aims to discredit the NYT (especially given its history of antisemitism, err anti-Zionsm — see Jerold Auerbach’s Print to Fit: The New York Times, Zionism, and Israel, 1896-2016) I am dubious that the rise of the NYT, if that indeed has occurred caused the demise of local newspapers. Local newspapers were subscribed to for the classifieds, ads for what’s on sale this week at the supermarket and what happened at the PTA meeting last night. They are on their way to disappearing because they are unable to withstand the competition from the internet, which gives you all of this information for free, not the NYT — which never included this sort of stuff anyway.

  3. Craigslist killed local papers, by destroying their business model of classified ads.

    Although Craigslist is much better at classified ads than local papers ever were, the loss of local reporting is not a good thing for society. It was an unintended consequence.

    • This. Craigslist and Google and Facebook killed journalism. Period.

      Consider the American who has sex only after carefully screening the partner through a shared cultural network of friends and relatives, who take the concept of sin seriously. Will the otherwise mildly autistic would-be-groom be grievously harmed? Perhaps losing substantial income depending on state of residence? Our pointlessly extensive list of citations indicate that, no, pre-grooms who don’t do rash things with strangers or poorly screened pre-brides do not face notable negative risks. Our research team concludes that procreation is a low risk activity for those properly equipped to conduct it. In a pending paper our team shows that an effective machine learning AI model of alimony/support rape utilizing all available data is dominated by totally obvious features that normal people totally get intuitively.

    • Who takes sin more seriously than a Christian minister or priest? Yet when these folks gather the resources necessary to attract a smorgasbord of sex partners, at least some of them seem to indulge (maybe not as deeply as Roman emperors). See for example.

      In I wrote about a guy whose wife sued shortly after getting religion: “When they got married she was a non-practicing non-believing Catholic. She eventually developed three passions: (1) Evangelical Christianity, (2) drinking alcohol, and (3) having sex with a boyfriend from prior to the marriage.” does not suggest that people who take sin seriously refrain from suing each other in family court. (Maybe they do take sin seriously, but they also take “having sex with new friends” seriously!)

    • That’s a lot of links. Must mean there’s a solid point. Not gonna click ’em.

      My point is I was never at the slightest bit of risk of being divorce raped because I can smell people. I can smell women. I think mild-austists (who often wind up making a decent amount of money) can’t smell women. They need the guidance of their brothers and deacons/rabbis/whatever. They have no sense of smell. They need help. It’s that simple.

      Religious institutions have traditionally provided the framework to make sure that those of us with questionable judgement don’t make stupid mistakes. They also applied serious political power to make sure silly girls didn’t do stupid things, but I guess that’s another matter.

    • You should explore the operational sharia courts in London and Michigan. They haven’t gone crazy. They have relatively sane ideas about family law.

      Churches in the USA used to exercise such power but have been usurped.

      I doubt any of the Muslim imports will last two generations in America. They’ll be atomized corporate drones soon enough.

    • It doesn’t seem as though autism, mild or otherwise, is a path to higher-than-median income. See

      and (85% unemployment rate for college graduates on the autism spectrum)

      for example.

      Can Autism be prevalent enough to explain the American love affair with divorce litigation and profit-seeking in family court? Consider the woman in her 50s we wrote about in Her husband realized that he could get paid tens of $millions to have sex with women half the age of his defendant. I don’t think that she is autistic. I don’t know that she could have picked a husband via some superior process. She wasn’t super rich when they met and married. Why isn’t a good explanation simply that his incentives changed over the years?

    • > autism

      Again, a lot of links I didn’t click. Gotta understand the term in a post-modern metaphorical sense. Mild-“autists” post a lot of links and citations in pointless web discussions. These are exactly the guys who need a social infrastructure to make sure they don’t get mixed up with crazy.

  4. Out west many local papers are doing just fine. See the Arizona Republic or the Reno Gazette or the Sac Bee or many others that cover their cities. They report the relevant local news. They use a pay firewall and monthly fees and web ads to cover their costs. They are not as robust since the internet changed their business model but they still do a good job on local stuff. The NYT had nothing to do with their readers or their change to become online web newspapers.

  5. It’s a mix of causes. For local newspapers, it has more to do with dwindling local ad. revenue for businesses and merchants, cratering classified ad revenue, and changing demographics. Older people still cling to the remaining local newspapers, which get thinner and thinner. Younger people get everything online and don’t want to pay for it, they don’t go down to the corner store and buy the local paper, and subscription revenue has been dwindling for years. Local businesses increasingly use Facebook, Instagram and other online advertising platforms to reach local customers. Classified ad. revenue fell through the floor – who thinks of putting an ad. in the local newspaper to sell a car, a boat, or household items? Nobody I know – they put it online somewhere, even the older folks. This is one reason why senior centers try to run tutorial sessions for their patrons – to teach them how to sell their knicknacks online.

    In some areas the traditional role of newspapers carrying ads for local businesses have been supplanted by dedicated ad books for merchants published on a monthly basis, with no news or editorial content. Even those are getting slimmer in my area.

    There is Patch for local news, but despite Thiel’s enthusiasm it’s still not that popular and tends to work for towns like Medford in MA, which is relatively wealthy and has people who can either afford to volunteer or support themselves primarily through their day jobs.

    Wealthy/affluent areas cobble together a better mix of resources than poorer/less affluent areas, which become increasingly underserved.

    If you’d like to talk to someone in your area about the decline of local print, I would suggest Alice Waugh of the Lincoln Squirrel. I’m sure she understands the economics of local print newspapers better than I do:

    “A bit about me: I grew up in Lincoln and moved back here with my family in 2007. I have a master’s degree in journalism and I’ve been a reporter and editor at several newspapers starting with the Sudbury/Wayland/Weston Town Crier in 1983. From 1993 to 2016, I worked in various capacities at MIT starting with staff writer and then editor of MIT Tech Talk, the faculty/staff newspaper published by the MIT News Office.”

    • I’ve found that Medford Patch does a halfway decent job, but some towns in MA are better covered than others (Lincoln isn’t there!). Many don’t show up on Patch at all. I suspect this whole phenomenon is one of the reasons why it’s so easy to get people on the ballot in many towns – people don’t know what is going on in their own local governments. Back to the grapevine and the gossip.

      Go to a small town in Massachusetts that’s underserved by local and online newspapers and ask a typical resident when their next town election is. They won’t know, and they probably don’t even know many of the elected offices in their town, or who occupies them. Only the people who are consistently engaged and have been over a period of years have any clue, so the towns are effectively run by very small cliques of people with agendas of their own.

      Finally, the smartphone has absolutely destroyed and redirected the attention spans of people to the point that many of them are completely oblivious to things that are going on in the real world right around them. In the last town election, I met a woman who was a receptionist at one of my doctor’s offices. I figured I could ask her about her thoughts on the election, since there were dozens of signs, bright and colorful, lining the roads, which she had to drive past every day on her way to work. She had no idea there was an election. I said: “Haven’t you seen all the signs?” “Oh, I guess not.” As far as what was going on in her own town, you could have fired a howitzer at her head and missed her brain, but her smartphone was right next to her, she put it down just as I walked up to the reception desk.

  6. Finally, and this is meant to be funny – if you want to find out what’s going on in a lot of towns in Massachusetts (and I suspect elsewhere), you can visit two places: the senior center and the local bar. The seniors tend to be better informed (at least as a group) because they don’t have anything better to do, but many of them suffer from memory problems and/or dementia, so you take your chances. The drunks talk about a lot of things but also tend to forget them quickly or distort them beyond recognition. It’s a sad state of affairs.

    Philip, your biggest problem is that you’re much smarter than the average person. It’s hard for people with IQs over 140 to understand the ways of those who are, in comparison to them, Gammas, Deltas and Epsilon semi-morons.

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