Death Watch For Sun-Sentinel And Local News Coverage

BY BUDDY NEVINS

Nastiness is seeping into Plantation City Hall.

It appears some City Council members are peeved at Mayor Lynn Stoner.

Again. 

The latest: 

Stoner raised her monthly car allowance from $350 to $500. Council member Denise Horland didn’t like that, saying the move should have been approved by the Council. 

It’s small potatoes — roughly $1400 extra that the mayor has collected in car allowance so far.

But one Council member threaten an ethics complaint against Stoner. 

Alas, the atmosphere is far from copacetic in City Hall in Plantation, a city of just under 100,000.

The rhubarb over car allowances happened during city budget discussions. What else is controversial in that budget? 

You won’t find a word about it in the struggling Sun-Sentinel. Or any other media outlet. 

As the Sun-Sentinel slides down the road to oblivion, local news coverage has disappeared.

Over two dozen communities in Broward including Plantation get little or no coverage, although most of the population call those towns their homes. Sadly that lack of news coverage is repeated all over the nation.

Sun-Sentinel: How Much Longer Will It Be Here?

Today’s media outlets run like this: If some 20s-Something editor believes a story won’t get clicks on the Internet, the story doesn’t run.

Government news gets fewer clicks than a sick dog or a picture of a sexy model. So most government news doesn’t run.

But it is the government and political news that is really important, shaping our future and our lives.

Government news is sometimes costly to cover because it requires time. It requires phone calls. It requires sources. It even requires showing up in City Hall to do a good job.  

Commissioners and Council members routinely tell me they never, ever see a reporter at their meetings. Or anywhere in City Hall. 

Your City Hall could be riddled with corruption. Commissioners could be wasting your tax money. 

There is no journalist acting as a watchdog to tell you what’s happening. 

(The exception in the Sun-Sentinel is Fort Lauderdale, which is covered fairly well. Could the reason be that many of the editors and other managers live in Fort Lauderdale?)

The situation in local journalism is dire, says Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist. He has given an estimated $50 million to local journalism, much of it centered on New York City. 

Craig Newmark

Newmark explained in the Business Insider: 

“At a time when we urgently need and deserve reliable sources of comprehensive local coverage, grassroots news organizations are closing their shutters at alarming rates. Since 2004, the US has lost nearly 1,800 newspapers, according to the recent study of UNC Chapel Hill’s Penelope Muse Abernathy. Up to 1,400 communities that had their own papers in 2004 are now entirely without news coverage…

New York City provides a poignant example. For the last several years now, the media capital of the world has been on a painful journey toward becoming a local news desert. That’s pretty ironic, but not in the good or funny sort of way. With the Village Voice and countless other New York City news institutions closing down, coverage of critical beats, from immigration to criminal justice to transportation, have been, by necessity, reduced. Without the ability to fully and meaningfully cover local occurrences on a daily basis, important stories go untold, corruption persists, and our lives are impacted.”

Newmark’s generosity might stem from guilt. His Craiglist had a big role in killing local journalism. It drained $5 billion from local newspapers from 2011-2018 by helping to wipe out their lucrative classified ads, according to the New York Times.  

In some cities, internet sites or weeklies are actively reporting on government. But too many have a political bias or struggle financially. 

Journalists working for the Sun-Sentinel and other professional media sites are detached from local issues. They could care less about what happens in City Hall, except that it’s a story. 

I expect the lack of local coverage to get worse. The next downturn in the economy will take many of the remaining print media outlets and other media outlets with it. 

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette didn’t even need an economic downturn.  The Post-Gazette just cut the frequency for its print product to Thursday, Friday and Sunday. 

The Post-Gazette won a Pulitzer Prize this year, just like the Sun-Sentinel, proving that the award means nothing to the economic viability of today’s newsroom. Just ask the former reporters at the Washington Star, New York World Telegram and Sun, San Diego Evening Tribune and many others — all papers that won Pulitzers and are gone. 

Ten Pulitzer Prizes didn’t save The Washington Star, including one the year it folded in 1981.

I expect the Sun-Sentinel and Miami Herald, which is actually in worse financial shape and also won Pulitizers, to reduce its print newspaper at some point…sooner than later. Maybe they’ll merge, which would delay the inevitable end. 

 What does it means for you?

A future with fewer reporters to cover anything in Broward. Fewer journalists telling you who’s dipping their beak into the public trough. And more wrongdoing when nobody is watching. 



15 Responses to “Death Watch For Sun-Sentinel And Local News Coverage”

  1. David Brown says:

    It would be a tragedy for our democracy for communities to be without a responsible independent source of news and good journalism Not withstanding that I don’t always agree with the coverage and often bemoaning the fact that some issues that I think are important are not covered fully and sometimes are not covered at all. I love reading a physical newspaper. Feeling the newspaper enhances the reality that news is important to the proper functioning of government and our society. There was a time when my professional responsibilities required me to read newspapers in Chicago, Washington DC, New York, Omaha, Nebraska, and Philadelphia. And I loved it.

    I still at least scan several newspapers daily or weekly on the Internet. I subscribe electronically did the SUN-SENTINEL, the Miami Herald , The New York Times and the Washington Post. I encourage everyone to visit their sites at least occasionally and hopefully daily.

    Reading about the same issue in different publications in different cities on a regular basis will enhance your understanding of the subject and give you a better perspective about how they are viewed across the nation.

  2. Alex Schore says:

    Media is dying from self-inflicted wounds. Journalistic standards have largely fallen by the wayside. I blame the editors and owners, they are responsible for content. There is no integrity for most “news” outlets and the Sun-Sentinel is no longer even suitable for wrapping a fish or lining a bird cage. I once was a subscriber, but cancelled my subscription. Once the Sun-Sentinel finally fades away, it’s likely that not many will notice. They are just about as irrelevant as buggy whips.

  3. suzanne says:

    should “communicates” be “communities” and “enviable” be “inevitable.”

    FROM BUDDY:

    You are right.

  4. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    I spent the better part of a decade, investing very considerable time, opportunity, and treasure fighting corruption. During that time, my dog was poisoned, I was shot at, sued, had Bob Norman pop out of the low brush chasing after me, called every name in the book (some appropriate), and tried to hold truth to power.

    I never proclaimed to be anything other than a terrible flawed person who was found in that moment of time. My work was a labor of passion, as I didn’t put a fucking penny in my pocket for all that work. I heard the phrase “Chaz fatigue” coined at the S-S. Well, no shit, I was the one making news.

    I believe I made a difference, albeit temporary it seems, as for every Sylvia Poitier, there’s 100 Terry Scotts ready to step in.

    When it came to getting help from the local press, reporters like Linda Trischetta and Larry Barchewzki just phoned it in … It’s really hard for me to cry them a river.

  5. Nancy Hubbell says:

    Ugh. It’s bad news, no doubt about it!

  6. Timothy P. Beavers says:

    Buddy, why don’t you create a digital subscription service focused on each Broward municipality, the school board and the county. Subscriptions could be a menu for all or each municipality, the school board and the county. Create quality journalism on the most local of government that affects us all. There are many quality journalists at the Sun Sentinel who likely want to continue to live with their families in their local communities, rather than move elsewhere.
    Be the best at news where it means most to residents. Then, build up to the state and nation. You can do this.

    FROM BUDDY:

    Thanks for your confidence, but I’ll leave such a worthy task to others.

  7. No Longer A Reader says:

    I haven’t purchased a copy in years because there is nothing to read. What they advertise to get you to buy a subscription are coupons, not news. You can get all the coupons you need on the Internet, the same place you can get all the news you want. I don’t care if they go out of business. They died years ago.

  8. David Brown says:

    I couldn’t agree less with number two. That’s a political argument not an economic one. It’s economics that’s hurting nEWSPAPERS. They used to be the only news source in town and now there are hundreds of digital sources few of which have any fact checking mechanisms. If more people bought the paper or subscribed there would be more money to pay for more reporters and to give them the opportunity to write longer stories based on more vigorous investigating.

    FROM BUDDY:

    What you write is true. Unfortunately, more people are not going to buy a paper or subscribe to a local newspaper Internet site. Main Street media’s penetration among younger people is dismal. Its not that they aren’t interested in news. They just get their news in other ways, like podcasts, untraditional websites and other free sites.

    I have two sons in their 30s. One is a lawyer who has volunteered in politics. The other has professionally worked on campaigns. Neither subscripe to a traditional media outlet — print or Internet. Nor do any of their friends that I have asked. Its just not in their DNA.

    Main Street media can’t build a future when the only ones who read or watch it are our age, David.

  9. Charles Foster Kane says:

    The Sun-Sentinel website stinks, too, and it is not worth the very high price they charge.

  10. David Brown says:

    BUDDY, I agree with your last comments. I’ve been moaning the fact that too many people younger than us don’t find the newspaper is another source of news. I also go to all of the electronica sources, on a daily basis, but there are few with the breath of stories in the newspaper. Often times the paper just scratches the surface of a story because they devote so But when I find one that interests me I then find the depth I want in the electronic world. I’m a news-a-holic. I appreciate journalists and fully understand that not everyone is perfect and everyone has their own agendas and priorities , but in my view, NEWSPAPERS can help educate and hold public officials feet to the fire. We need much more of both.

  11. right wing says:

    the sun sentinel ship has been in a free fall for years. nothing more than a stepsister of the ny times. nothing more than the tired anti bso, anti Christian, anti conservative agenda they have espoused for many a year. I suppose i’ll find another way to line the bottom of the litter box.

  12. Another reason why the SS sucks says:

    Hopefully someone from the SS will see this…

    Why despite having a digital account that EVERYTIME I try to access a story I have to always re insert my screen name and password. This sucks.

    Sincerley

    One of the few print subscribers you have left

    FROM BUDDY:

    This is clearly a problem experienced by a number of subscribers. I have heard from several that they are repeatedly logged off, or that they have to logon to access stories.

  13. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    Again I buy this paper everyday.U r right.The cashier states to me that myself and a handful( mostly ederly)of others.

    My beef with the local news is again alot of u r right- no or very little coverage.Then when u do get a reporter doing local municipal coverage,u blink and it’s someone new.

    Whats hurting newspaper sales is social media esp.Twitter.Oh yes I look at these Twitter feeds everyday.Which with these local reporters are very usually very informative.

    But biggest beef is what has been recited here no or very low or limited coverage edp at these comm.meetings.

  14. Rick Lund says:

    This is nothing new but now we are moving the Sun Sentenial over to hospice. It is hard to feel much empathy. The coverage has always been horribly biased and tainted.

  15. Forever Young says:

    It is a sad state of affairs to lose newspapers and journalists. There are many good arguments printed here and some not too convincing. However, what I find the saddest of all is that children will lose something that is one of my fondest childhood memories. Both of my grandfathers used to sit and read newspapers to me: Detroit Free Press, NY Times and the Forvitz (Forverts?…not sure), but I learned about my neighborhood, the world, politics, the economy and a little bit of Yiddish. Most of all, we talked and I learned my grandfathers’ opinions. It also taught me to care about things. Our school assignments always included finding a newspaper article and researching it and writing about it. Maybe the blame goes to lazy parenting and lackluster teachers. Wake up, young people who don’t vote…teach your children well!(and try listening to the prophetic words of some older music)

    FROM BUDDY:

    Younger people still read. They just read on a computer or a cell phone.

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