Friedersdorf on local newspapers
Conor Friedersdorf, a former reporter at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and Pomona College graduate, has an internship at The Atlantic magazine. While regular contributor Megan McArdle is away, he and a few others haven taken over posting on her blog, Asymmetrical Information.
Friedersdorf, an emerging conservative voice in the mediaverse, uses the opportunity to lament the decline of watchdog journalism at the local level and consider whether bloggers can pick up the slack:
I understand that there are hyper-local blogs run by gadflies who can cover some of this stuff. But the institutional support of a newspaper, while not technically necessary for local coverage to thrive, is nevertheless very important. A financially healthy newspaper has some institutional memory, so that when the lone hyper-local blogger goes on vacation, or moves to a new neighborhood, or gets paid off by the local developer, someone is there to continue important coverage.
A healthy newspaper has an attorney on retainer so that when a powerful local threatens a frivolous liable (sic) suit if a controversial story runs, the story gets run -- I've known local news bloggers who uniformly didn't publish such stories when confronted, though they were in the right, because who wants to get sued over their blogging hobby?