Why is Niagara News Source needed?

Three months ago there were about 12 journalists working in Niagara County, which has a population of just more than 200,000.

That’s by no means an overabundance of journalistic oversight in a county that desperately needs it.

These days, with the recent shuttering of The North Tonawanda Sun, Lockport Star and the East Niagara Post, that number of working journalists is eight.

That’s less than one journalist for every 20,000 people, and that’s not enough.

But it’s more than numbers. It’s about journalistic independence.

Every one of those reporters — representing about four brands across the entire county — can be silenced, their stories quashed or edited unrecognizably by higher-ups if the subject matter or quotes don’t line up with their agendas.

Or if the reporter even bothered to write it in the first place. (Dictates about what’s publishable — official or otherwise — are communicated to their reporters continuously.)

I’m not saying every piece a journalist writes needs to be exposing a corrupt underbelly while hurling rage — like the other independent voice in Niagara County, The Niagara Falls Reporter, which can be a valuable resource of information and reporting; perhaps less so on some opinions, points of view as well as tone …  

But like “the Reporter” has achieved and encourages, there’s a need for the journalists of Niagara County to go deeper.

Increased competition in the journalism and reporting scene here benefits all the citizens and news consumers of Niagara and Erie County, which is taking notice of the opportunities here.

Increased — and especially independent — competition encourages the corporate news interests to invest more money in their staff. (Notice how the Buffalo News reduced coverage of North Tonawanda after the Tonawanda News went under? No doubt the same thing would happen in Lockport if the Union-Sun & Journal took its final — and a surprising number of residents say well-deserved — lap around the drain for being one-sided on too many important occasions.

And, in closing, isn’t it just a little strange that the dominant news organization in Niagara County has ‘Buffalo’ in its name?