Decline of Independent Newspapers
Photo/ Text by Donna Malloy
Six years ago, a symposium was held in Champaign, Illinois to address the decline in the number of independent newspapers in the United States. In 2002, it stated that "independent, family-owned newspapers represented only about one in six papers; the rest were under corporate ownership."
In the early 1990's, a new movement called "civic journalism" appeared (also known as public journalism).
According to Professor David K. Perry of the University of Alabama, civic journalism was "an attempt to abandon the notion that journalists and their audiences are spectators in political and social processes. In its place, the civic journalism movement seeks to treat readers and community members as participants."
It was around this same time, 1993, that Chuck and Sandy Pollick purchased the forty-three year old Beach Views newspaper from then owners Chuck and Betty Carter. Originally established in 1950 by the late Clifford and Frances McKay in 1972, the McKay's daughter and son-in-law, Anne and Berle Garris, purchased the paper and operated it for three years until selling it to Anne's cousin, Chuck and Betty Carter.
The Pollicks' main reason for purchasing the Beach Views was to "save the paper" according to Chuck. "The Carters were moving back to Georgia and the community needed an independent voice" stated Chuck. Their philosophy adheres to the basic tenets of public journalism, namely making the newspaper a forum for discussion of community issues and favoring the issues, events and problems important to ordinary people.
Through hurricanes, black-outs and printing problems, "since November of 1950, the paper has never missed a weekly edition" Chuck proudly boasted. Also, the paper has always been free.
The Pollicks changed the name of the local beach paper from Beach Views to Clearwater Gazette, and their focus expanded to other towns such as Belleair Beach, Belleair Shores, Belleair Bluffs, Largo, Indian Rocks Beach, Dunedin and Harbor Bluffs, to name a few.
Demand for local news is on the rise and Clearwater Gazette has grown and each year is growing strong. That expansion also included moving to a larger office in Belleair Bluffs to accommodate the increase in business and developing Clearwater Gazette website.
David Mathews, president of the Kettering Foundation and a supporter of civic journalism states that, "when people are in the business of making choices, they are going to look for information to inform their choices." Mathews affirms that civic journalism is aimed at aligning journalistic practices with the ways that citizens form publics, in turn creating a more efficient and reciprocal way of communicating with readers.
According to Daniel Webster, owner of the independent newspaper Pioneer Press in Fort Jones, Siskiyou County, since 1998, you can write him nasty letters or call him names in the street, but "that's what comes with newspapering in a small town."
And now, for your convenience, your community news is available on the web at: www.clearwatergazette.com. For more information, or to purchase an on-line ad, please call Sandy at 727-446-6723 or write to email@example.com.
Photos by Donna Malloy
Return to Current Edition