Earlier this week, the Montgomery County Sentinel and Prince George’s Sentinel announced that they will be going out of business Jan. 30 after 57 and 42 years, respectively, under their current ownership. The Sentinel, founded in 1855, has long established itself as a publication essential to the reporting of local news for and about the residents of two of Maryland’s most-populated counties, Montgomery and Prince George’s.

But their demise has not been felt to the truest depths, at least not yet. However, in short order, the thousands of residents who have grown to rely on their local newspapers will lament in the fact that their unique and particular stories, features about area children and young adults achieving the “impossible,” reports on community councils and school boards, will no longer be documented by the press.

And that’s the real tragedy behind these newspapers being forced to shut down their operations.

As a community-based newspaper, The Washington Informer, along with our sister 200-plus Black-owned publications, all members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, understand full well the challenges that smaller, community-based publications have faced since the 1990s, if not earlier, given precipitous declines in circulation and classified advertising and the ever-increasing dominance of the Internet and other online options for consumers.

Many larger publications, including the District’s own Washington Post, have reduced the number of pages in their Metro section which focuses on news reports and features stories highlighting life and the lives of local communities. But they remain committed to such reports.

But one day, if we are not careful, if we do not support our local newspapers – from Anacostia to Alexandria – from rural enclaves which still look a lot like the fictitious “Mayberry RFD,” we will lose the stories that really inform and inspire millions of Americans forever.

Are you supporting your local press with subscriptions, advertising and word of mouth which positively speaks to the positive work they do and service they perform? We implore you to do so.

For many of these publications, whose writers routinely give their very best – their blood, sweat and tears on behalf of thousands of families, children, returning citizens and grassroots activists – they, just like our staff here at The Washington Informer, may stand as the only voice ordinary people still have.

And sadly, once other publications like the Sentinel must also close their doors, more voices than we can accurately count or imagine will similarly be silenced forever.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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