Saturday, March 15, 2008

Local news important to Long Beach community

Greg Mellen spoke about our Press-Telegram to a receptive crowd of fifty or so local residents at the March 13 meeting of the Belmont Shore Residents Association. He talked with them about why having a newspaper that serves a community of a 500,000 people and reports the local news is important to the reader.

At the P-T we only have 12 news reporters to cover Long Beach and 19 surrounding communities. We only have two weekend reporters and two sports reporters to cover nearly 50 high schools. To say the coverage is inadequate is an understatement.

“Why is this important to you?” Mellen asked. “Because as staff dwindles you end up losing your local content.”

When we lose staff with years of experience who have developed contacts in the community we lose the stories they can tell. As our paper’s circulation declines along with the amount of local content we provide, the Press-Telegram becomes less relevant.

At the March 3 City Council meeting Press-Telegram reporter Tracy Manzer used the analogy of someone having cancer. Doctors have learned they can only cut out so much out of the body without fortifying it before the body dies. Mayor Foster spoke of U.S. Steel and how the cuts and reductions in the industry without reinvestment resulted in a death spiral for
the industry in America.

When you make dramatic cuts in staff and replace local news with news from the South Bay and the Valley, how is it relevant to Long Beach?

MediaNews' strategy of cuts and clusters and homogeneity is clear and has been laid out in its newspapers in Northern California.

Long Beach is a major-league city with a paper that is being pushed into minor-league status. Our community deserves a better product. If you want to share your concerns please contact Ed Moss LANG executive, the publisher Mark Ficarra, and your councilperson let them know you want to read the local news in the Press-Telegram, your hometown paper.

“I think we’re all going to lose if it doesn’t change.”

Comments from the audience included “I was always happy to get my morning paper and have my coffee - not anymore” and “The paper has turned into an animal I don’t recognize.”

(Photo by P-T photographer Steve Carr)

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