Monday, March 17, 2008

With no local newspaper watching government, residents in Saltville, Va., work to keep tabs

Newspapers pride themselves on being watchdogs of government at all levels, and in small communities that role is even more vital. In remote Saltville, Va. (pop. 2,200, Encarta map), the nearest newspapers are two weeklies and a daily owned by Media General Inc., but the town's residents say they need someone else keeping tabs on local government. For now, a group of locals plans to form a group to send people to committee meetings and post updates on a Web site, reports Debra McCown of the Bristol Herald Courier (Media General's nearby daily).

"Some residents say they believe town meetings are conducted improperly, they feel they do not know what’s going on and some claim there have been cases of favoritism and cronyism," she writes in a February article. The Herald Courier's Web site does not have any recent updates, and a quick search of the Web site for the Smyth County News & Messenger (a nearby Media General weekly) did not uncover an initial report or any recent news from Saltville.

The lesson here is the importance of local newspapers for local government, especially their ability to inform people about what is going on in committee meetings or other sessions. When no one is watching how officials are making decisions, residents lose touch with their government. In this case, it seems some residents are taking a proactive approach to solving that problem. (Read more)

1 comment:

Kris said...

MediaGeneral has some Saltville news at