No news is not good news


If any of you have paid any attention here, you may recall posts regarding the fortunes and failings of The Ledger, and my disregard for its future. Now, as is always true, things have changed, or are in the process of changing, and seemingly for the better.


The last time I looked, an annual subscription for both print and digital access amounted to nearly $500.00, largely due to the effect of the 12 or so "Special Sections" which reduced the length of your subscription two weeks at a clip. Missed deliveries are logged and refunded but not re-delivered anymore. Customer service amounts to a ritualistic "I'm sorry".


Yesterday I bought an annual digital-only subscription for $39.00, which includes the PDFs of every page as it was printed. Just over a dime a day, the price of the weekday paper once upon a time.


And today, I was struck by the progressive tone of the lead editorial - borrowed from the Daytona Beach News Journal (a sister publication) - warning of the potential unintended consequences of the GOP oppositon to Critical Race Theory instruction in public schools. This is a noteworthy move to the center from the far right influence that shaped most of the opinions for the last many years.


USA Today - the flagship of the Gannett-Gatehouse empire - was, and maybe still is, considered a non-newspaper, full of short, easy-to-read, easy-to-ignore stories from all over, but almost never from "here". It is nobody's local newspaper. Its circulation has always been driven by bulk distribution to hotels and convention centers. And its parents, Gannett and Gatehouse, were, and maybe still are, considered mean-spirited, marauding profit takers whose primary goal is ownership not citizenship.


But, the times, they are a-changin'. Maybe.


So now I am encouraged, and so I encourage you, to take another look. Setting all other considerations aside, The Ledger is in fact Lakeland's daily newspaper and for good or ill, when it makes itself heard, people listen. Two recent pieces illustrate the turn it seems to be making. One, covering the kerfuffle over Amazon's air traffic and the other reporting on the backlash to the Reececliff notice disparaging the unemployed who - in their view - would rather take government handouts than work for a living.


Both were very well done and competently covered the broader issues professionally.


Good news. But we need more. All cities and their citizens do.

And as it happens, Lakeland can be counted among a great many small communities across the country being served by a dedicated cohort of local, independent, online news publishers (LION) focused on the communities they live in and delivering the information people need to make informed choices about how their communities can thrive,.


Lakeland Now (LkldNow.com) - just such an entity - moved carefully and thoughtfully into the vacuum left by The Ledger's last ownership group which focused on the paper and printing rather than the news. The pressure for profit eliminated news jobs in wave after wave until less than 10 percent of the original full complement was left to merely fill the empty space between the ads.


If, as we hope, The Ledger intends to be a true citizen of Lakeland, then along with LkldNow, we shall have more news and information that will give us all more opportunities to be better citizens ourselves. LkldNow often cites coverage from The Ledger in its own stories, summaries, and recaps, with the notice that such content is for subscribers only. I use to flinch at that, but now that it only costs a dime, I'm in.


I suggest you do the same.