The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): “Not having reporters at government meetings is like a teacher leaving her room of 7th graders to supervise themselves. Best case scenario: Tiffany gets gum in her hair. Worst case scenario: You no longer have a school.”
— John Oliver, host “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
How accountable would government be if there weren’t newspaper reporters poking around and asking questions?
Unfortunately, there’s a growing body of evidence to suggest an answer; and it’s not pretty.
The quote above came from the popular HBO series, which despite being a comedy show, does a good job of explaining social challenges related to current events.
Oliver’s 2016 riff on the importance of local journalism actually inspired a university-level researcher to wonder if there was a measurable societal cost associated with dwindling (if not altogether disappearing) reporting resources at newspapers across the country.
Bell, Calif., offers perhaps the most egregious example of stress-free graft in the absence of a local newspaper.
Authorities said the working-class Los Angeles-area city of 36,000 was looted of more than $5.5 million by a number of officials, including the city manager, who was giving himself an annual salary and benefits package of $1.5 million.
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