Like many of you, we took no joy in reading the report this morning from the Los Angeles Business Journal tolling what could, in all likelihood, prove to be the death knell for Long Beach’s oldest newspaper.
Two of the Press-Telegram’s last local reporters and a long-time columnist announced they were quitting, leaving just one Orange County Register transplant to cover local news at the paper.
Don’t blame these talented, hard-working journalists for leaving. While we don’t know what straw finally broke the camel’s back we, like much of the nation, have been watching from the outside as Southern California News Group and its majority stakeholder Alden Global Capital recklessly dismantled their own newsrooms across the Southland and the country.
“Local News Matters” is a sentiment SCNG has been throwing around for a while now as a sort of marketing tagline—co-opted here because A.) we’re pretty sure it’s not copyrighted, and B.) while the news group have done nothing to indicate through their actions that they actually believe “local news matters,” we very much think it does.
The Press-Telegram has always been a competitor of ours—and the competition has been at times fierce—but we believe the interests of every resident in this city are best served by having a diversity of local news sources. Long Beach needs more organizations bringing you the news and information you need to stay informed, not fewer.
This time last year "digital divide" wasn't a term being used by LB City Council. Then some award winning journalism happened.
— Jason Ruiz (@JasonRuiz_LB) April 18, 2018
Last year, under the guidance of the Long Beach Community Foundation, we partnered with the Press-Telegram, as well as the Gazette Newspapers—another SCNG property that has suffered under the group’s ownership—and the Long Beach Business Journal to bring you an experiment in collaborative, investigative journalism.
The series that came out of that partnership started with a question: in a community striving to be a “city of the future,” why do one in six residents still not have access to reliable broadband internet?
This issue, as we discovered, had many causes and innumerable effects. Access to the internet is no longer a luxury; it’s a fundamental necessity that effects student performance, prospects for higher education and future employability. Lack of access to the internet is correlated with feelings of isolation, which can affect mental health. The digital divide disproportionately affects blacks, Latinos, and the economically disadvantaged, and is tied to a gap in economic mobility.
The series netted the collaborative a first-place award for public service journalism from the California News Publishers Association, and is up for multiple other awards, but that’s not what’s most important. What’s most important is that it spurred the leadership in the city to talk about this issue, and take active steps to bridge the digital divide in Long Beach.
Our first story in the series went live last October, and the very next day the Long Beach City Council convened a study session on residents’ critical technology needs. The day after that, the city’s Technology & Innovation Commission received a presentation from the mayor’s office on the impact of the digital divide on Long Beach residents.
Now, months after the end of the series, the investigative journalism of the collaborative is still having tangible effects, prompting policy discussions and shaping the future of access to technology and information in our community.
This is the kind of positive change that hyperlocal journalism can enact.
For as little as $5 per month, you can help ensure the future of local news in Long Beach, and contribute to funding more of this kind of effective, actionable investigative journalism.
If you are in a position to give, please think about what this kind of in-depth reporting on our community, by members of our community, is worth to you, and consider making a monthly or one-time contribution. If you can’t give at this time, please continue reading and sharing the stories that matter to you. Our local journalism will remain free for everyone.
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