From The New Republic

The news last week that Michigan Republicans were rushing through a bill to make the state “right-to-work” was a reminder that much of the action in the next few years is going to be happening at the state level, not in Washington: battles over unions, the implementation of the new health care law, and social issues such as gay marriage and drug legalization, to name just a few fronts. But from a bordering state came renewed reason to worry about whether all this highly consequential activity would get adequate coverage and public scrutiny: The Cleveland Plain Dealer announced that it would be cutting one-third of its staff, further raising the hefty body count from the country’s mid-size regional papers (a toll that has been concentrated recently on papers owned by Advance Publications, which, in addition to the Conde Nast magazine goliath, owns the Plain Dealer and the New Orleans Times-Picayune, which recently stopped circulating a daily print edition.) It’s really getting to the point where we have to ask: If a tree—or a union or a company or a corrupt local official—falls in Ohio or Michigan or anywhere else outside the well-covered coastal precincts, will anybody hear it? And if not, what is to be done?

This is hardly a new concern of mine. A few months ago, I noted that a discovery I made in Ohio—an FBI investigation into large, questionable donations made by employees for a North Canton company to an Ohio congressman and Republican Senate candidate—surely would have been exposed much earlier in the days of a more vigorous local press. T.C. Brown followed up with a reported piece in the Columbia Journalism Review exploring how this story had been overlooked, and what he found was predictably alarming…

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