(p. C4) Advertisers may have been peddling baubles or junk food, but their cash funded serious journalism — the kind that could afford to send a reporter to, say, every municipal board meeting. “People knew that,” the former editor of the once mighty Youngstown Vindicator told Sullivan, “and they behaved.” This watchdog function had tangible benefits for subscribers and nonsubscribers alike. “When local reporting waned,” Sullivan writes, “municipal borrowing costs went up.” Local news outlets provide the due diligence that bondholders often count on. Without the specter of a public shaming, corruption is freer to flourish.
. . .
“Ghosting the News” concludes with a soaring quote from the Italian theorist Antonio Gramsci about “pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will,” but the local reporter in Sullivan follows it up with a more immediate analogy: Even if no one seems to be coming to the rescue while your house is on fire, you still have to “get out your garden hose and bucket, and keep acting as if the fire trucks are on the way.”
For the full review, see:
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date July 26, 2020, and has the title “Books of the Times; Yes, Fake News Is a Problem. But There’s a Real News Problem, Too.”)
The book under review is:
Sullivan, Margaret. Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy. New York: Columbia Global Reports, 2020.