Abe Sauer: The importance of supporting local media
Affordable housing, splash pads, nightlife, bike lanes, childcare, dog parks and event venues. What Rochester needs more of seems endless. But one amenity that rarely gets mentioned is media. Rochester needs more media of all kinds and it’s up to us to support it.
The Med City Beat is a fledgling but promising source for independent local journalism whose strong selling point is that it is free. Of course, it’s not free to produce. This is why, since the beginning, my business has been a proud financial supporter. But one is not enough.
Another great recent addition to the Rochester media landscape is the Rochester MN Mom’s Blog. A blogging collaborative of women’s (and one man’s) voices. The site covers a lot of local topics that may be missed by other news sources. The blog sponsored a candidate debate this summer and it’s exciting to see its coverage grow.
The more dedicated local media a city has, the easier it is for its residents to feel at home, to feel like there is a voice speaking to them. Stories and voices from a dynamic media find their way to the readers who value them, in turn helping those reader-residents feel connected and valued. But as I noted, a dynamic media is not free.
Just like many local businesses, media publishers and workers struggle in a cutthroat marketplace where many consumers have taken them for granted. There is an assumption that local news coverage is a kind of public service. But in America, newspapers are private enterprises, no different than a restaurant or a construction company or a hotel, none of whose services we expect for nothing. Journalists today work with the understanding that being called bias, corrupt, partisans, hacks (especially hacks), racists, and jackasses goes with the territory. But it’s only recently that these same journalists have been expected to weather those accusations while at the same time being criticized for not providing free labor.
Why then does the idea of “buy local” not typically extend to media? In the Post-Bulletin’s case, its newsroom lives in Rochester, pays Rochester taxes and spends their money in Rochester businesses. Anyone who knows me knows I am a frequent critic of the Post-Bulletin’s work. But I still value that work and am happy and proud to subscribe to our local newspaper.
So if you value local businesses, please also remember to value local, professional media. Subscribe to the Post-Bulletin. Read the Med City Beat and the Rochester MN Moms Blog. (Consider sponsoring them if you have a business.) Our community will be greatly diminished if we lose any of these outlets.
By the way, no matter what Rochester media you consume, please make sure you are actually consuming it. Facebook is great for comments, discussions, flame wars and trolling, but make an effort to click through to the story attached. Your web traffic is what supports the ad buys that pay for the publications.
Abe Sauer is a writer and business owner living in Rochester.
(Cover graphic: The Med City Beat)