Starting Nov. 2, the newspaper I once edited, the Oakland Tribune, will be officially dead, its remains combined with several other papers under the name East Bay Tribune. This may make Oakland the largest city in the United States without a daily newspaper all its own. But what does that mean?
As the managing editor in 1991 of the Tribune owned by Bob and Nancy Maynard, I ran a newsroom with 130 full-time professional journalists. Attrition over the decades has left today’s Tribune with just a dozen reporters. That’s less than 10 percent of the staff we had. As the FCC’s Steve Waldman reports in Information Needs of Communities, the biggest impact of this shrinkage is a shortage in something called “local accountability journalism.”
Here’s just one example of why journalism matters and what Oakland has really lost:
Twenty years ago, 10,000 people fled for their lives when a 2,000-degree inferno raged over three square miles in the city, killing 25 people and gutting more than 3,000 homes – the most destructive wildfire in state history. During the first week