I wrote last week about local newspaper demographics, positing that “local readership of these publications [Gazette, Daily Union] is probably similar to that of Fox News. Nationally, newspaper readership skews to older Americans: half of newspaper readers in 2015 were over 65 years old. For Fox News, it’s a similar, if even older, demographic: half of Fox News viewers in 2015 were over 68. These are nationwide, rather than local, readership and viewership data.”
Those demographics are different from America’s, from Wisconsin’s, and from Whitewater & the towns nearby. Publications that rely on so homogeneous a readership rely on only of slice of America (demographically & culturally).
A recent editorial in the Gazette shows how bad this problem is. Following officials’ concerns that race & ethnicity were a cause of open-enrollment decisions in the Delavan-Darien School District, the Gazette wrote to argue against a consideration of race and ethnicity. See, Our Views: Delavan-Darien School District’s problems go beyond racism (subscription req’d.).
In a 591-word editorial, the Gazette early on acknowledges that “Racism is likely part of [the] problem,” offers not one word more in consideration of that problem, and then spends the next 528 words looking for other explanations.
The Gazette wants to go beyond racism, but someone should remind the paper that one cannot go beyond a topic that one has scarcely reached.
Funnier still is the Gazette‘s prim declaration that “blaming each other or assigning ulterior motives to parents’ enrollment decisions is not helpful” when the paper itself admits early in the editorial that racism is likely a part of parental decisions.
The Gazette‘s editorials are poorly written because they’re poorly considered. They’re poorly considered either because the Gazette panders to a cosseted, echo-chamber readership or because it has, itself, succumbed to the atrophy that comes from being cosseted and in an echo chamber.
The gentlemen of the Gazette needn’t worry that one will assign a particular cause to their work, as one wouldn’t wish to be not helpful, and because it doesn’t immediately matter.
Appeasement or atrophy?
The result is mediocrity, either way.