Local News Can Make a Difference, But Needs Help

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Councilman Mike Bonin proposed putting little houses for the homeless in the Will Rogers State Beach Parking lot. The City’s CAO rejected the site.

Circling the News congratulated the Westside Current for its paper’s continuing coverage of Councilman Mike Bonin’s systematic approach to take away all semblance of a normal life in Venice, by allowing policies that made the town a public safety nightmare.

It was probably that publication, more than any other, that helped defeat Bonin’s choice to replace him in City Council and resulted in the election of Traci Park.

The Westside Current was started because no one was covering the news that mattered to Venice residents.

One would think that the L.A. Times would have done a deep dive on the stories so important to the Westside, such as destroying Westchester parks, the destruction of the Ballona and the plan to house homeless on Will Rogers Beach.

The Times, if they ran a story that involved the homeless, liked to call residents NIMBY’s. That paper endorsed Bonin’s choice for his replacement and other progressive candidates supported by the Democratic Socialist Alliance.

Now, the Westside Current and Circling the News are still trying to find a way to be profitable. Both have a wide readership, both receive kudos from readers, but financial support is dicey.

Internet ads have not been able to fund the WC and donations to CTN are still not a major source of income. This editor basically works for free.

Both papers pay a small amount to outside writers, both papers pay for the programs to run the websites and IT help. Although websites are not nearly as costly as the printing and distribution costs of a paper, there are still expenses.

As a local internet news “pioneer,” how does one make a profit as people transition from printed page to social media?

The Knight Foundation, a nonprofit, (“Considering Supporting Local News as a ‘Public Good’? Here’s the Whole Story”) wrote that people have to “understand  the importance of having a reporter keeping an eye on city hall, on corrupt police, on shady business practices. Then, local news goes from being a profit machine for media companies (and hedge funds) to being a public good, a civic service for the community that everyone must support.”

As local papers have folded across America – or in the case of the Palisades, replaced by staff who are not part of the community, which means the history and the knowledge of stories is incomplete—people have lost the eye that watches government.

Larger city papers don’t understand or see no need to cover the local stories that matter to residents.

The Knight Foundation, a nonprofit, argues that local journalism is a charitable cause. They note that larger publications have been bought by billionaires, but “the appeal for supporting smaller local outlets is not as apparent.

“Now is the time for more foundations and philanthropists to come off the sidelines and begin supporting local news,” the Foundation wrote. “The numbers are certainly daunting in the industry: Newsroom employment has dropped 25% from 2008 to 2018, according to the State of the News Media report from the Pew Research Center. While radio broadcasting lost 26% of employees, newspapers lost a staggering 47% of workers.

“This is especially significant because such reporting often serves as the backbone for on-air stories by local radio and TV stations. The bright spot was digital-native newsrooms, which nearly doubled in staff over the past 10 years, but still didn’t come close to making up for the losses,” story concluded.

Can the Westside Current and Circling the New continue to have your support in the coming year as we cover local stories? Thank you.

Sue Pascoe

Editor

Circling the News

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8 Responses to Local News Can Make a Difference, But Needs Help

  1. Dana Dalton says:

    You have my support
    Where do I send my money

  2. Hill Joan says:

    Yes yes yes.. happy to contribute and suppprt.

  3. Sue Jameson says:

    Sue, please post a link to pal pal or Venmo and I am sure you would get a lot of donations

  4. William Minderhout says:

    I will donate. Where do I send the MONEY!

  5. Andrea Dyke says:

    Keep going Sue!!!! You are our local treasure. Donation made on your site.

  6. Diana says:

    Happy to support you. Please show us the way!

  7. Love what you do. Happy to help. Please post a link to PayPal.

  8. Sandy says:

    I admit that I’m one of those who are sporadic at sending donations. I’d appreciate you suggesting to your readers what would be an acceptable donation amount and frequency (i.e., how often) so that I can calendar it.
    Sandy

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