Editorial: Our lights are most certainly on
By Richard Gaw
I am deeply interested in the progress and elevation of journalism, having spent my life in that profession, regarding it as a noble profession and one of unequaled importance for its influence upon the minds and morals of the people. Joseph Pulitzer
Recently, the editorial staff at the
Chester County Press read, with great concern, a story posted
on philly.com. that told the on-going story of how Digital First
Media, the nation's third-largest newspaper chain, has purchased
several troubled newspapers, but rather than infuse the capital
needed to repair crumbling infrastructure and invest in new talent,
they have chosen to make sweeping layoffs, and left decimated staffs
to work in squalid and unsafe conditions.
There are crumbling flecks of paint falling from ceilings in newspapers all across the country that now form the Digital First Media family, and no one has come by to fix them. In short, they're taking, not giving, and in their wake, Digital First Media is destroying community journalism as we know it.
The company – which owns several news media outlets in the Philadelphia area, including our neighbors, the Daily Local and numerous other weeklies – has made $160 million in profits on $939 million in revenue in 2017, the article said, and about $18 million of that profit comes from area newspapers alone.
On its web site, Digital First Media prides itself on having the ability to share “engaging stories that inform, inspire, and connect with readers across a diverse collection of trusted local media brands,” and drive “innovation in content delivery and journalism consumed by over 60 million each month.”
Their web site also boasts that they are made up of journalists with experience to speak truth to power, while also being “digital natives” – whatever that is – with the knowledge to grow business amid constant change.
We at the Chester County Press find little truth in this fake news, given that under Digital First Media and other national news chains, staff numbers continue to drop considerably, which begs the question, “Who is left in these newsrooms to drive this content delivery? Who is left on advertising staffs to share a company's message to readers?”
This is not a business model that the Chester County Press has, or ever will, ascribe to.
From the time this newspaper was purchased by Irvin Lieberman in 1970 – and in the ensuing years that have seen tremendous growth, which now includes seven regional magazines and countless event publications – we have stuck to our original mission: To provide the news of the community it serves, with editorial content not derived from press releases and news sources, but written by experienced news reporters.
In addition, a business owner seeking to expand the message of his or her company through the Press or its parent company, Ad Pro, Inc., will never be directed to an advertising service, but will develop a person-to-person, long-term business relationship with our advertising representatives.
While we believe that it is not a crime to turn profits, doing it at the expense of community journalism is a perilous perch to hang a business philosophy on and, in fact, we've been defiantly bucking these trends with great success. In an industry whose downward spiral has been well documented, we hire people, not lay them off, because our growth has required more writers, graphic designers and account executives. In an industry being taken over by faceless corporations, we help coordinate your company's marketing plan, and our reporters sit at kitchen tables and at meetings and events from Chadds Ford to West Nottingham – in an effort to best tell and share the continuing narrative of our towns and neighborhoods.
Every week, every month, every year, we at the Chester County Press, Ad Pro, Inc. and our family of publications and on-line media recognize that our obligation, begun nearly 50 years ago, has never changed.
If you want to look for the death of community journalism, look elsewhere. Our lights are most certainly on.