OUR OPINION: Thank you for supporting local journalism

As the community and the nation prepare to celebrate this season of Thanksgiving, we are reminded how thankful we are of the support the Capital City has given through the years for local journalism.

Sadly, not all communities have been so supportive, and the loss of that local journalism has harmed the community as well as its newspaper.

A recent Northwestern University study reminded us of that fact this week when it noted the nation had lost a third of its newspapers and two-thirds of its newspaper journalists since 2005.

At its current pace, about 3,000 newspapers will have closed in the past two decades by sometime next year, the study predicted. While digital outlets have emerged to fill some of the voids, they're closing at roughly the same rate as new ones start, the study said.

There is talk of public financing helping the industry, and more philanthropic money is coming in, the study notes. But frankly, none of that has changed the trajectory for local news.

At this time, more than half of the nation's counties have either no local news outlet or only one, and it is usually a weekly newspaper.

Studies have shown declines in local news outlets have increased political polarization, led to more political corruption and let outlets that spread misinformation fill the void.

"What we're trying to do is frame this as a crisis for democracy," said Penny Abernathy, the report's co-author and a visiting professor at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.

The study noted an uptick in local news readership during the pandemic, suggesting people respond when there's an urgent need to know what is going on in their communities. But the decline in local news coverage in some communities has made many potential readers get out of the habit of looking for local news.

We believe strong, local newspapers can strengthen communities by helping residents become more active as they learn about the opportunities and challenges in the community. That's why News Tribune journalists devote so much time to covering community events and issues you and your neighbors face in schools and in towns and villages.

The greatest value of local news is that it empowers the informed. Local journalism provides the information residents need to make the best possible decisions for their lives, their communities and their governments.

Through your subscription to this newspaper, we are able to provide that service to you and your neighbors in the hope that it will make the community stronger, more engaged and pulling together to create a better future for us all.

And for that, we thank you.

-- News Tribune