News Briefs for Dec. 29, 2022
At Tuesday's board meeting of the Harlem-Roscoe Fire Protection District, Kevin Briggs was promoted to Deputy Chief of Operations. Mike Jones and Jeff Grant were sworn in as Battalion Chiefs. Spencer Caruana was sworn in as a Lieutenant. Jacob Archambeau and Jay Starnes were sworn in as new firefighters. Firefighters Ryan Donner, Eric Ceniti and Will Sieracki received their black helmets after completing their probationary period.
Andy Frieden and Kailynn Catalani, both of Roscoe, performed in Christmas at Augustana, a holiday musical tradition since 2008 at Augustana College. The presentation featured the Augustana Brass Ensemble, Augustana Symphony Orchestra, Ascension Ringers, Augustana Choir, Jenny Lind Vocal Ensemble and Augustana Concert Chorale.
At the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Natalie DeWitt of Roscoe, who is studying Biology Education, won a Cummings Scholarship. Lance Dutenhafer of Roscoe, who is studying Social Work, won a Ralph G Navarre Scholarship.
Penny Abernathy, visiting professor at Northwestern University, has mapped about 200 American counties that no longer have a local newspaper. As many as 1,600 counties have only one news source, most of them run by a skeleton staff, often owned by national chains or hedge funds that focus on shareholder profit rather than community service.
Plus, there are another 1,300 "shell" outlets which spin out millions of automated news stories each month, hoping to convince readers they provide local news. Often called "pink slime journalism," they are financed by conservative or progressive political groups. With names such as Rock Valley Times and Rockford Sun, these websites insert partisan stories among mass-produced or computer-generated articles such as one announcing that a Caledonia high school tennis player is now ranked 2,221st in the nation.
The Washington Post cites several research studies about the loss of local news, "Fewer knowledgeable local reporters means less accountability, leading to higher public spending, lower social cohesion, fewer people voting or running for office, less ticket-splitting and more polarization as people rely on national news sources."
Yet in many parts of the country, independently-owned and locally-run news outlets are bucking the trend. In 2021, Rockton-Roscoe News began providing the first daily journalism for Rockton and Roscoe since 1835. Today our articles are read almost 40,000 times each month. In Rockford, the Rock River Current seeks to "bring Rockford the good news, along with the critical community information our residents deserve."