I’m a high school journalism teacher in Hershey, Pa., and a former news reporter. I’m writing because I stumbled across Star Publisher H. Brandt Ayers’ column about the importance of community news, and I was deeply struck by the rightness of it.
In truth, I Googled “new gilded age” and by chance hit on The Star’s site. I couldn’t agree more that our nation is becoming a venue for corporations to expand their wealth and influence without regard for a growing inequality that threatens to undermine the middle class. The scary part, in my view, is that a vast majority of the American public is asleep to this fact — in no large part because of the declining standards of media and journalism.
Today’s mainstream media is either unabashedly partisan or concerned principally with attracting eyeballs through coverage of vastly meaningless news events like the royal wedding. Few news organizations take seriously their duty to inform Americans about things that matter, like policy — policy that, since the late 1970s, has increasingly favored corporations and the wealthy over the average citizen.
As for local journalism, Ayers couldn’t be more on point. I worked for two local newspapers owned by out-of-state corporations that, as far as I could tell, cared about anything but journalism.
So thank you for swimming against the current — your work is important work. One can only hope that this new gilded age will be followed, as with the original gilded age, by a progressive movement that again unites common Americans.