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OPINION

Community deserves decent local newspaper

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin

To the editor:

Why and how did the spread of Covid-19 in Brownwood stop being a story to report in this paper? Or has it magically left our midst? That would be a great story in itself, don’t you think?

As a regular contributor to this Opinion page for many years now, I am still watching and waiting for others to follow suit, step up, and write something worthwhile to inform, inspire, entertain, or denounce what happens here in Brown County. Please, fellow readers, don’t you have anything to say anymore? (I know, everyone has switched to “posting” their opinions on “social media”).

Emboldened and enabled by the slavish sycophants he surrounds himself with, Resident Rump now blatantly and proudly disrupts even the constitutionally-mandated functions of the U.S. Postal Service, and the Decennial Census, among others. Who among you readers will write to defend his reckless, destructive, and amoral behavior? Is he still your “divinely chosen” one?

Regular readers of this paper must have noticed the accelerating shrinkage of local coverage, even as state, national, and international stories have increased, after the Bulletin was swallowed by the Gannett/USA Today organization. Yes, we are fortunate to still have a local paper, but lone reporter Steve Nash can only cover the community in the broadest and shallowest strokes, as he offers glimpses of school bands and cheerleaders, soldiers, pilots and police, and who ended up in the county jail. If we’re lucky, we may get the briefest of summaries of City Council and County Commissioners meetings. Thanks Steve for hangin’ in there! And welcome to the Brotherhood of Shaggy Longhairs!

Once upon a time, and really not so long ago, most people in this country could agree on the basic facts of current events, as revealed and reported by the scientific community, and the news media. Newspapers were the oldest and firmest foundation of the news media, and what they said and how they said it really mattered in the public sphere. That time has passed, and newspapers are fading fast, as detailed in Margaret Sullivan’s new book, Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy.

I am reminded of Frank Capra’s 1941 classic, Meet John Doe, a social drama that highlighted changes in the newspaper industry as the country still struggled out of the depths of the Great Depression, but had yet to enter World War 2. In the opening sequence, a workman is wielding a jackhammer against an office building façade. The old lettering being blasted off into dust reads: Est. 1862--The Bulletin: A free press means a free people. Over the erased outlines of the old letters, a metal plaque is placed, with the new inscription: The New Bulletin: A Streamlined Paper for a Streamlined Era.

Entire segments of community life are now mostly absent from our own Bulletin, including agriculture, industry, labor, religion, environment, and especially local government and politics. It seems unlikely that the Bulletin will be expanding its reporting in any of these sectors, so it may well be up to you, fellow readers, to pitch in your own “Special to the Bulletin” piece, or Letter to the editor. Come on now, really, what have you got to lose?

Just a decent local newspaper.

Daniel Graham