When you don't watch the pot, it often boils over:
It’s a crisis that threatens American democracy. Local newspapers, despite all their flaws and limitations, have been a trusted — and necessary — source of information for citizens across the country.
When local news withers, bad things happen, studies show. People vote less, and they vote in a more politically polarized way. Political corruption has more opportunity to flourish, unnoticed by the local watchdog. And municipal costs may rise.
After being involved in local government for several years now, I don't subscribe to the view that governments would go crazy with unnecessary spending in the absence of a journalistic watchdog. Voters don't (necessarily) need to read about their property tax going up to notice it, it's right there on their monthly mortgage bill when the escrow goes up. Elected officials are aware of that when they crunch their budgets every year (or two). But those voters won't know "why" their property tax went up, or anything else about their local government, and that's a huge problem. Which is why I also don't subscribe to the view that local governments should withhold information, make it harder for journalists to cover their activities. If the newspaper gets it wrong, it's usually because some official thought it was "wise" to be tight-lipped. It rarely is. But there may be a philanthropic light at the end of this tunnel: