Wow, while eating breakfast today here in Salem, Oregon it was so great to use my iPad to read the opinion section of a local newspaper.
I enjoyed seeing an editorial about a local controversy, along with intelligent commentary on the recent horrible killing of 19 elementary school children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. There were columns by nationally syndicated writers, both progressive and conservative. And the letters to the editor showed me how ordinary people are viewing various important issues.
Only problem was, I was reading the Portland Oregonian (which arguably is "local," especially compared to the New York Times), not the Salem Statesman Journal.
I can't read the Statesman Journal opinion section because it no longer exists.
Gone. Vanished. Sucked into a black hole of poor journalism earlier this month, as I wrote about in "Statesman Journal eliminates opinion section. I'm irked."
My irritation at something usually fades with time. But after three weeks of scrolling through the online Statesman Journal on my iPad, I haven't gotten used to the glaring absence of the section that used to be my favorite part of the paper.
A newspaper without an opinion section just doesn't seem like a real newspaper to me.
Of course, the reality of the Statesman Journal has been steadily shrinking for many years with every layoff of experienced journalists and more reliance on USA Today to fill up pages in the paper that used to have local news.
Now, in addition to very little local news, I'm met with precisely zero opinion content.
I guess this is better than having no newspaper at all in Salem. (I don't count the Salem Reporter as a newspaper, being more of an online news source with just a few stories each week -- and also no opinion section.)
However, at some point the Statesman Journal is going to be even more of a hollow shell of a newspaper than it is now. I almost look forward to this, since having it go out of business could be preferable to having it hang on as nearly useless.
Hopefully something better would replace the Statesman Journal if it disappeared completely. Can't be sure about this, though, so for now I'll continue paying as little as possible for getting as little local news and opinion as the publisher deems possible in Salem's paper.