Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Mail | How to survive if your local paper dies

Regarding whether another Gannett Blog reader has one of AOL's community news websites nearby, Anonymous@7:24 p.m. writes:

If you're worried about getting your local news and don't have a Patch site available, I'm assuming that you are in a smaller community. I'm in a similar situation and here's my "Plan B" for local news if our local Gannett paper is shuttered:
  1. Bookmark your local funeral homes' websites so you can get local obits.
  2. Set up an account on to get local crime reports and/or check to see if your city and county put crime reports online. If so, bookmark them.
  3. Go to and search for your area forecast by Zip Code and set up a bookmark to that link to get accurate NOAA information.
  4. Bookmark local TV station websites and check their news of your area daily.
  5. Set up a Google news alert with the name of your community so you receive e-mails about stories written by sources you may have otherwise missed.
  6. Find or start a good local blog that will allow discussions with other community members about local interests in its comments sections.
  7. Learn to love Craigslist for classified ads
It's sad and awful to contemplate doing all of those things, I know.

By taking the steps above however, you've got news, weather, crime reports, and obits available to you digitally: the meat of any daily newspaper.

Sadly, what you will be missing are the insightful analyses offered by smart, experienced journalists. Those are people who will help you interpret what you're seeing -- that is, until those journalists figure out how to deliver news independently from the current corporate structure, or until another paper starts in your area to fill the void created by Gannett.

Letters to the editor are edited for syntax, etc. As always, other views are welcome. Post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the rail, upper right.


  1. We can get all this information at our local radio website (KTLO) for free, which we have been doing for years. I can't remember the last time I have seen our paper's website on one of our workplace computer screens. Plus the radio station's news is more current.

  2. "What you will be missing are the insightful analyses offered by smart, experienced journalists."

    I dispute this assertion. Part of the reason newspapers are doing so poorly is that the "insightful analyses," which used to mark the medium, have become woefully absent. There's nothing in there that readers want.

  3. Good tips, but the only reason my parents have been getting their local paper for the last 20 years is the ads.


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