Thursday's abrupt closing of TV3 Winchester was a dark day for local news coverage, but as many of you may know, news outlets across the nation have been weathering a perfect storm over the past several years.
Smart phones, tablets and other Internet-connected devices have dramatically changed the way we all consume news and information as well as how and when we watch movies, television shows and sporting events. On top of that, our nation has slogged through a lengthy recession that has impacted everyone, including businesses that advertise in newspapers and on television.
Local news media outlets depend upon advertisers - local and national - to help pay the costs of gathering and disseminating local news to readers.
Without advertisers there would be no local news coverage. Just think about that for a moment -- no local story or photo of a local high school team winning a state championship. No reporter at a supervisors meeting where there's a proposal on the table to raise your taxes, or build a new regional jail. No one there at a school board meeting where the superintendent offers a plan to change boundary lines that could mean your child will be bused not to a nearby school but one that's 10 miles away.
Without advertisers there would be no local newspaper or local television station to let readers in the region know about all the pancake breakfasts, oyster dinners and other local fundraising or entertainment events. Without local news media, advertisers would have fewer options on getting the word out to consumers about what's on sale.
Keeping local media alive depends on advertisers and, in the case of newspapers, subscribers, though what subscribers pay for a newspaper is only a tiny fraction of what it actually costs to produce and deliver it -- and without advertisers, subscribers would have to pay several times more than they pay now for the paper.
We're heard readers in the southern end of Shenandoah County complain about a black hole of news coverage, and now, in online reader comments at nvdaily.com about TV3 Winchester's closing, we see the black hole reference about the northern end of the valley.
We urge area residents to support local news media by supporting local businesses. It's a circle that, if broken, will widen that black news hole and harm our communities. We need to know what's happening in our towns, counties and region.