Great title! But I was disappointed by Emus Loose in Egnar, a book that explores local newspapers, which unlike the rest of papers seem to be thriving since they document what no one else can: the minutiae of small-town lives, from births and death to the exploits of the local high school football team.
The author does a great job of describing the difficult juggling act of local newspapers that need to report the news but can’t afford to antagonize those who make the news, with funny examples and serious ones both. And she includes very funny (albeit genuine!) excerpts of police blotters.
But I thought the book did not explore two important points. One is that the quality of these newspapers, no surprise, depends on the quality of the editor. Our local paper is a sad mix of blind, NIMBY resistance to change and naked displays of wealth, obscuring even the unintentionally funny police blotter (yes, I do read it!) and the liberal sprinkling of the names of every high school athlete. Sad.
The second point is whether these local newspapers will indeed survive. While it’s true that people thirst for local news, how many will continue to read a traditional paper? And local newspapers are not well-equipped today to adapt to electronic distribution and it’s unclear how their owners can make the transition since many seem to live on a permanent financial edge.