Local Newspapers Are for LocalsFor once, I agree with Knoxville News-Sentinel editor Jack McElroy-at least in part. He wrote an interesting response to a gentleman who is a newcomer to Knoxville whose complaints about the News-Sentinel were not the typical rants you might read of here. Instead, this fella doesn't like it that East Tennessee's biggest newspaper actually covers the local news from an East Tennessee perspective:
I am a new subscriber to the News Sentinel. I must say I am surprised. I have never been exposed to a newspaper that is so, well......local. Reading your headlines is like asking a local resident for directions. If you don't know the local history or rumor behind many of your stories, you are totally lost. Just like if you don't know where "Old Uncle John's Barn" used to be down by where Betty used to have her "Dippy Dew" beauty shop, then you need not bother asking directions."
I shall say of this person what I am sure Jack McElroy does not feel at liberty to say-this person surely must be a moron of the first-rate. A local newspaper's primary job is to cover the news from a local perspective, and the more local it is the better the paper is likely to be. If you actually live in East Tennessee for any length of time, you'll get used to what things mean and how the news gets reported. If you don't like it, don't read the paper, or for that matter don't watch the local television news. If you're really that up in arms about it, you don't have to live here, either.
Now the part where McElroy is wrong:
I expect the News Sentinel to become more locally focused in the years ahead. The reason: local content is our niche. It's the only product we can produce that customers can't get elsewhere.
There are all kinds of places where local consumers can get local news, information, and content that is as good (and usually better) than what the News-Sentinel is producing. Between Tennessee's rich State and local blogosphere, and dozens of free news and information sites other than the News-Sentinel, East Tennesseans have a multitude of local information options, so we can "get it elsewhere."
The News-Sentinel is the newspaper of record for much of East Tennessee, however. The biggest problem with that is that there is no real competition for the News-Sentinel as the East Tennessee paper of record. Knoxville and/or East Tennessee really needs a second major newspaper. The Knoxville Journal with its traditionally Republican editorial outlook provided the newsroom competition to make the Sentinel better. What remains of the Journal now is a weekly rag that barely gets the news it covers right, and has long fallen into disrepute. Its days as the regular Republican editorial voice for East Tennessee are long behind it-it has been reduced to running stories like this.
An interesting rumor that I have heard in recent weeks is that a consortium of people may be readying themselves to start a number of small "Today" newspapers in small towns and communities across East Tennessee. One of these papers may be called White Pine Today, I've been told. If there is any truth to the story that some folks are about to launch a small paper in this town, they might consider giving it a name that reflects the town's heritage. Years ago, White Pine had its own paper-it was called the White Pine Enterprise. It is no longer in publication, and to my knowledge no one holds the rights to that name. Perhaps a White Pine paper should again be called The Enterprise.