(Photo illustration by Junanna Chen)
Fountain Valley High School

Opinion: OC Weekly’s death is a blow to local journalism

Not that many people read physical newspapers nowadays as the press has found more readership and longevity online, which only makes it harder for small publications, like OC Weekly, to survive.

The Duncan McIntosh Co. publishing company announced the 24-year-old publication’s closure on Nov. 27, 2019, the Times reported. This marks yet another low blow into local journalism.

The OC Weekly was discharged by its former publishing company Voice Media Group in 2016, citing reason for the paper to focus on digital media.

Major news outlets such as the L.A. Times and Washington Post are excellent at covering national and international events. Alternative and local newspapers do a better job of covering local news, yet few recognize the value of local journalism.

Local newspapers are essential to keeping communities well-informed.

They cover the humble efforts made by citizens. They cover the achievements and tragedies of schools. They cover hole-in-wall restaurants and the distinct cultures of neighborhoods within the city. They hold onto rich history and abundant information, meaning that as local publications die, so does an integral part of the community.

OC Weekly is no exception. It captured the best and worst of Orange County, far better than any major and digital-only news publication, from its entertainment reviews to political stories.

More notably, OC Weekly gave Orange County a reputation for uncovering corruption and immorality throughout the area in the years it’s been active.

Many of the publication’s major stories were on various local scandals among courts and police administrations, such as the gross misconduct of a previous OC attorney, as well as frequent scathing criticisms against conservative politicians. OC Weekly has achieved so much, so its death is a tragic ending to one of the biggest voices in Orange County.

OC Weekly’s closure is a small piece of a much larger media epidemic. As more people turn to the Internet, specifically social media, to get their news, newspapers are forced to publish articles digitally to extend their livelihood.

Many local newspapers already compete with major publications and have to work even harder to differentiate themselves in order to keep their readers. Often, smaller newspapers such as Daily Pilot and the Burbank Leader find themselves working under bigger newspapers (in this case, the Los Angeles Times).

The sad reality is that local newspapers, due to the lack of resources to keep up with their digital counterparts, disappear and leave the scraps of local news to be inadequately covered, or sometimes forgotten, by the giants.

This doesn’t mean that journalism will disappear once and for all. Major publications such as CNN, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post are major sources of news and we still have the Orange County Register and Daily Pilot — an OC local paper owned by the Times.

But the truth is clear. As we continue to shift to the digital media, local newspaper chains will die unless we make an effort to pay attention to our community news and support local journalists whenever we can.