|The editorial and business office of The Quoddy Times in Eastport, Maine (Photo by James Fallows)|
Local journalism is important, James Fallows writes in their newest piece, "because so much of the future of American economic, cultural, and civic life is now being devised and determined at the local or state level . . . Voters, residents, and taxpayers need to know what is happening (or not), and what is working (or not), in their school systems, and their city councils, and their state capitals. It is imperiled for obvious reasons. What has happened to media revenues in general has happened worst, fastest, and hardest to local publications, newspapers most of all."
|Eastport, Maine (Wikipedia map)|
The QT is successful because it aims for a regional audience and market and has a "substantial" mail circulation, delivering papers to subscribers in 49 states. Extraterritorial circulation is not unusual for papers on the Maine coast and other vacation and second-home areas. Its family ownership "means that it can spend its modest resources as it chooses. It is not under external-ownership pressure to meet regular profitability targets, which has sent so many small papers into cycles of cutback and decline," Fallows writes. However, the husband and wife who own and run the paper, Edward French and Lora Whelan, emphasized to Fallows that the kind of journalism they provide has kept the paper alive.
French's mother, Winifred, started the QT in 1968, more than a decade after she and her husband moved to Eastport from Arizona. "She had no newspaper experience," Whelan told Fallows. "But she thought these communities really needed a voice. So she talked to other small newspapers and had correspondence with people all around the country about how she should set this up." French grew up helping with the family business and stepped in to run the paper as an adult.
The paper is packed with local content, including tribal issues, high-school sports, impact of state and federal laws, fishing industry news, editorials, letters to the editor, obituaries, births, church notices, tide tables, city-council coverage, and more. "I think it’s important for newspapers not to keep cutting," French told Fallows. "If you keep cutting, there’s less and less reason for people to buy the paper. If you want to keep a healthy circulation, you have to make the investment in reporters and providing the news that people can’t find anywhere else."