Dear Editor – I was extremely concerned to read over the weekend that the Martinez News Gazette will stop publishing at the end of the year.
The MNG is the only newspaper to cover in detail many of the neighborhood, business, and political issues with which the Martinez community engages. Larger regional papers are unlikely to take an interest in the sort of downtown concerns, for example, that have driven so many residents to planning commission and city council meetings.
This shut-down of yet another local paper is, of course, just the most local of a disturbing and long-standing national trend. So why make a fuss? The big reason is democracy. We need to know each other as a community in order to function like one. Losing our local news source deprives us of valuable information we need in order to keep track of government officials, take care of our environment, monitor our childrens’ schools, learn about crime in our neighborhoods, celebrate our successes and plan for a better future. The newspaper is also a way for residents to speak up.
Why should we sit quietly by when we are robbed of our voice?
Many people have told me that it’s pointless to fight something like this, but it seems to me that as a community we should be able to come up with both short- and long-term solutions. I have asked my city council member to find a way to negotiate with the owner for a delay in the shut-down until, for example, a buyer for the paper can be found. I’m sure other people can suggest more and better possibilities.
I suppose that some might see defense of a small town newspaper as a romantic, naive, impractical, and doomed battle, but democracy is not romantic. It’s not charming. It’s hard work. Martinez rarely takes no for an answer without a lot of noise. In Martinez the noise leads to solutions. I’m making noise now, and I hope that others who feel as I do will make some noise too.