Local news in crisis?

Pastoral Messages | April 11, 2024

The decline of local news is not news. We all know that journalists and beat reporters are disappearing in record numbers because of the glut of free online content, plummeting advertising revenue, and scores of other factors. The once mighty Los Angeles Times, to cite but one example, has laid off more than 20 percent of its newsroom this year. More than half of U.S. counties no longer have any local news coverage. The list of newspapers and magazines entering the extinction category is long. 

What this decline means for local communities is a significant loss of a common culture – a place where stories of hope and human dignity, of aspiration and achievement, get told. Without a bevy of reporters to cover local stories, news outlets are left to rely on the police blotter or a reprint of one- or even two-day-old newswire stories. These unavoidable realities foster news fatigue, cynicism, and often relentless negativity among readers and viewers.  

It occurs to me that our congregation provides a strong antidote to this absence of rich local news. When I contemplate the volume of human-interest stories that get told and shared every week through the networks of this church, I’m in awe. I’m not just talking about our print and digital publications – though those are at the heart of our news operation. The interactions that occur whenever people congregate in this building, or visit one another, or listen to a sermon, or bother to look out for another, or huddle as youth, or assist with a ministry of service … the substance of these interactions doesn’t make the evening news. But the content is so hope-filled. 

That’s my point. The way we live, tell, and share our human stories is life-expanding. You become a changed person every week you get exposed to this stuff. You have to hang around or tune into St. Paul life, of course, to catch the benefit. But when you do, your life becomes more than the trauma and dread with which traditional news outlets sometimes bludgeon you.  

I love this aspect of church life. We help each other reject the status quo and visualize a better future. We see hope in wild things. We discover the role we’re supposed to play in making a better world. In Christ, we don’t let fatalism dictate the terms. I don’t know what you call all of this, but we are something like a hope-filled news outlet that cares intently about the well-being of all people. So, maybe we should say: local news isn’t entirely in decline.

-Peter W. Marty, senior pastor

4 Comments on “Local news in crisis?”

  • karen wolfe

    April 18, 2024 at 3:45 pm

    thank you for sharing pastor marty..

  • Beth Johnson

    April 12, 2024 at 7:51 am

    Yes & Amen! Thank You for affirming this. May we/St Paul Church continue to Love & Care for each other! To the Glory of God!!! ❣️🪷🕊

  • Connie King

    April 11, 2024 at 2:20 pm

    I have realized that I arrive at any group I’m involved in early so I have time to talk with people. That is one of the best parts of being in a group. 🙂

  • Deb Lamp

    April 11, 2024 at 1:39 pm

    Great message and I agree!

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