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LETTER: Save our Citizen

Dear Carrboro,

Happy summer, old friend. You’re looking good: Traffic is flowing on Weaver Street again; Open Eye is packed; Weaver Street Market’s lawn is a-buzz and the Farmers’ Market continues to amaze. But as wonderful as you are, my dear town, we have a problem.

What if you heard that the Carrboro Farmers’ Market was going under? No more local organic produce from a trusted independent source? Outrageous! Wouldn’t you find a way to save one of our irreplaceable community institutions?

So now think about the potential demise of another of our vital Carrboro community institutions. We have learned that our locally owned, locally produced and widely trusted community newspaper is at risk, and if a new owner is not found, The Carrboro Citizen will fold.

That is just unacceptable. We have all watched these last five years as The Citizen has grown from a modest start-up into a trusted and reliable voice in our community. And as a faculty member in the “J-School” specializing in community newspapers of excellence, I can’t tell you how proud I am of The Citizen. Proud to be call Carrboro “my town” and proud to be affiliated with such a high-quality and committed local news outlet.

Dear Carrboro, do not take such a blessing for granted. As the director of the Carolina Community Media Project these last dozen years, I have led workshops at small newspapers from Murphy to Manteo, and I can say without reservation that The Citizen is one of our state’s finest weeklies.

Years ago, Tar Heel and CBS legend Charles Kuralt predicted the media would have a bright future if it became “relentlessly local.” We call such newspapers “community newspapers,” where unapologetically local news gets the front billing.

Heeding Kuralt’s advice, enlightened publishers like Robert Dickson realize that in addition to “telling the news,” the great community newspaper serves a greater good, very much like a sacred calling. Ultimately The Citizen has been an engine for social capital and civic engagement, vital ingredients in the maintenance of this robust community.

So Dear Carrboro, I can’t picture you without your own newspaper. I just know there’s someone out there ready to take the baton and run with it. After all, it’s not The Citizen; it’s OUR Citizen.

Yr hmbl svt,

Jock Lauterer
Director, Carolina Community Media Project

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