Wednesday’s news items [beards; paywalls; democracy] – 4/17/2019


Mens’ beards | Germs: more than a dog has FOX43-TV

Another paywall | “Professional newsgathering is an expensive business.” It’s true, Penn Live, the Harrisburg Patriot-News‘ digital Website, announces a paywall to access its news items.

Here, too | Columbia news, news & views readers may have noticed the absence of Central Penn Business Journal links to articles. (Notice what happens when you click through to this CPBJ article, “Former Columbia warehouse being made over into office space.”Months ago, that publication, locked down its site’s articles and news items are only accessible with a paid subscription. Columbia news, views & reviews and Columbia Spy are no paywall sites.

No news world | Ever thought about life with no local news sources? Life will be like the “turn of the century” — the 20th Century — and people will be perplexed about how to find out about what’s happening. How to find: high school sports reporting – obituary and birth notices – meeting notices – what happened in those meetings. Sure everyone has a mobile device and if people know how to access the kazillions of apps and digital sites, they’ll be able to get micro-information bits. “There are over 1.5 billion websites on the world wide web today. Of these, less than 200 million are active,” reports

The daily newspaper, though, represents a single source that encompasses slices of information packaged into one “hold-it-it-your-hands” or digital source. Gathering, aggregating and presenting news that local news sources as Columbia news, views & reviews and Columbia Spy do each day takes time, energy and financial resources. The producers of these local news sources receive no compensation yet do this because of passion for presenting news they feel is pertinent and relevant for Columbia area readers.

Like him or not | John Oliver’s 19-minute video about the need for journalism in 2016 nails it. The 9,400 plus comments are cogent and direct: “it is going to be a great time for a corrupt politician”… boy was he right.” SIDE NOTE: In the film clip in the John Oliver video, the editor of the Portland Oregonian, Peter Bhatia, once was the editor of The York Dispatch.

OPINION: This Reading Eagle editorial is important | The Reading Eagle recently filed for bankruptcy protection (Currently, it’s allowing a limited number of FREE view articles before charging a moderate price to have access). Hopefully, readers can read this editorial, “Editorial: County belatedly comes out in favor of transparency | It’s better late than never, but information about Berks Heim’s potential buyers should have been public all along.” It’s exactly this kind of information that citizens will not have when local newspapers fold.

We know | … that individuals and citizens will have limited access to government secrets at all levels. We know that governments, in order to keep secrets and under the table or back room deals, will make it extremely arduous, cumbersome and expensive for individuals to uncover secret dealings. A strength of American Democracy is that newspapers exist and have challenged federal, state and local governments. What happens when newspapers disappear?

Doomed? | “What happens to the ‘news’ when there are no newspapers left? We seem doomed to find out as people increasingly give up their newspaper subscriptions and seek information from free-content sources. And though newspapers have an online presence, it’s hard to get readers to pay for content.”


14% pay for news | “Most Americans think that local news is doing well financially, and not many pay for it”Nieman Lab



  1. It doesn’t matter if I’m willing to pay or not; none of the paid sites provide local (Columbia; or any other small town) news. Or very little they isn’t available through sites like this.

    What’s really troubling is that sites like this and The Spy aren’t treated as ‘real’ media by local governments.

    As I have said before, one key to better coverage is to break the corporate newspapers monopoly on mandated legal advertisements.

  2. Good day, Mr. D … We hear you and we appreciate your comments, especially about this site and Columbia Spy. One local government we know is out of touch on lots of issues, including the recognition of online news resources. The one we refer to only sends news items to us when they need to get information to the viewers we serve. As community news sources, each of us welcomes and publishes news releases about community issues, events and activities.

    We’ve heard from some of the “elected public servants” that they object to the “negative reporting” they perceive in our digital news sources.

    Perceptions about “positive” or negative” is in the eyes and minds of the beholders, we maintain.

    As to the medium mandated for legal reporting: Until all government Websites are fully transparent and until everyone has Internet access and until the state legislators pass legislation that lifts that requirement, we hold that legal advertising has to be published in the newspapers of general circulation or designated legal publications.

    We’d also like to see a physical posting of all Requests for Proposals, bids; meeting notices, job postings,etc. physically posted on a town bulletin board.

    Thank you for reading Columbia news, views & reviews.

  3. Our government leaders, federal and local, all speak of what we represent as a nation – “Democracy.” Democracy is where everybody is allowed to speak his or her opinions. Too many elected “public servants” complain about the opinions of which they disagree and do not want the public citizens to consider. If the public is not allowed to speak, then we cannot have a democracy.

    Below the masthead of The Washington Post is written “DEMOCRACY DIES IN DARKNESS.”

  4. Only one dissent from your observation, Mr. Burrill, if we may. Too often people use the word “leaders” or “officials” when referring to “elected public servants.”

    We like this narrative for What is a leader:

    Here’s a good read, too:

    Looking at elected public servants as McConnell, Graham (on the national level); leadership is lacking, we think.

  5. Mr. D … It beats the other systems, hands down.

    Happened across this:

    “Democracy is not simply ‘freedom for all’ or ‘the will of the people.’ It is a complex, delicate machine, a system of rules, institutions and checks and balances that can work harmoniously but can also swiftly degenerate and collapse. It appears that pro-democracy public discourse often ignores the difficulties and the inherent fragility of democracy, while anti-democracy discourse all too readily denies its benefits.”

    The democratic process, absent bad actors without personal agenda, is the one we favor. Except, perhaps, the benign dictatorship. ;=)

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