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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

I’ve always wondered what it would be like for the average citizen if they didn't know the news of the day.

What would happen if journalists across the globe stopped their work for a full 24-hour cycle?

Would people finally get it? Would they finally understand why a free press isn’t and shouldn’t be free? Would people finally hear the resounding click of their inner light bulb?

It’s the same thought I had Thursday afternoon, casually scrolling through Twitter and finding out my hometown newspaper, The Tampa Bay Times, went through another round of layoffs, losing seven more dedicated staff members after going through a round of layoffs in August of 2018, losing 50 employees company wide, according to a story by the Poynter Institute.

Just a few weeks ago, the beloved-by-many Sports Illustrated laid off 35 to 40 percent of its editorial staff, according to a story by The Washington Post.

And they’re not the only publications going through the hardships of this industry we love so much.

One by one, reputable media outlets across our country are losing quality journalists for the sake of meeting the bottom line, a means to a necessary end.

Advertisers aren’t as interested in shelling out hundreds — sometimes thousands — of dollars for an ad in print papers because they know a portion of their audience doesn’t pay attention to newspaper boxes anymore.

Avid readers got used to the free work that many publications gave away for too long before the sites started using paywalls to help subsidize the quality stories they were putting out. Even now, it’s hard to get people to spend the bare minimum (maybe a couple of drinks from Starbucks’ worth) for that quality work.

My Twitter feed is flooded with journalists asking their followers to subscribe to local publications. The same publications that pay attention to the little details in their communities that syndicated newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post can’t. A small rural town in the middle of nowhere or a larger metropolitan area on the rise are not necessarily points of national interest.

These publications need our support now more than ever. We can’t afford for this to happen much longer.

Everyone likes to call themselves a journalist nowadays, but the fact of the matter is that it’s hard to replicate what my colleagues and I do on a daily basis.

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So here’s our cry for help, for support. Our cry to continue the storytelling that we love most and carry it on for you, the reader. The people we have wanted to serve all along.

Follow Mari Faiello on Twitter @faiello_mari. Contact her at mfaiello@alligator.org

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