local news should never be for profit as the stories and community are everyones equally

Opinion: Local News Should Never Be For Profit – It’s Not Your Stories or Community, It’s Everyone’s Equally

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In the wake of Meta’s recent decision to block news websites in Canada, the fragility of the traditional local news business model has been laid bare. This move has sent shockwaves through the local press and media, highlighting the precariousness of their ability to reach readers and sustain operations. But perhaps this is a wake-up call, a moment to reconsider the very foundation of how we perceive and consume local news.

Local news is not just any commodity; it is the lifeblood of our communities. It is the stories of our neighbours, the updates from our schools, and the developments in our towns. These are not mere products to be packaged and sold for profit. By monetizing local news, we risk distorting the essence of these stories, filtering them through the lens of advertisers’ needs and monetary partners’ interests. In doing so, we stray from the core purpose of journalism: to inform, educate, and empower the community.

The argument here is not against the sustainability of local news outlets. Rather, it is a call to rethink the model that has long governed them. The traditional ad-based revenue model is proving increasingly untenable in the digital age, especially for local journalism. The reliance on advertising dollars often leads to a conflict of interest, where the need to generate profit can overshadow the commitment to impartial and comprehensive reporting.

However, this does not mean that local news should shun all forms of monetization. Passive forms of revenue generation, such as Google Adsense, can provide a viable solution. These platforms allow local business owners to manage their own ads, offering an objective and transparent way to support local journalism while benefiting themselves and the community. Unlike self-hosted advertising management systems, which can be biased and self-serving, passive monetization through third-party services maintains a level of impartiality and natural flow, ensuring that the news remains focused on its primary mission: serving the community.

As our media landscape evolves, it’s time to embrace a new paradigm for local news—one that prioritizes the community’s needs over profit margins. This is not a novel concept; public broadcasting services have long operated on a model that values public service over commercial success. Similarly, local news can adopt a more community-centric approach, focusing on serving the public interest and fostering a well-informed citizenry.

In this digital era, access to information is more democratized than ever. With tools like Google Alerts, local radio, Reddit, and trusted online sources, individuals can curate their own news feeds, bypassing traditional media gatekeepers. This shift in power back to the hands of the people is a testament to the changing media landscape. It underscores the need for local news to adapt and embrace a model that is more aligned with the community’s interests.

The challenges faced by local news in the wake of Meta’s actions are a reminder of the urgent need to reassess our approach to journalism at the community level. Local news should be a public service, not a profit-driven enterprise. It’s time to reclaim local news as the collective stories and experiences of our communities, and to ensure that it remains accessible, reliable, and free from the distortions of commercial interests. Let’s work towards a future where local news serves as a pillar of our communities, nurturing informed, engaged, and connected citizens.

And for the record: we are not a local news website, we are a community magazine and blog, as well as a digital place to gather. We love and respect everyone equally and value your personal thoughts, perspectives, and opinions.

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