This post originally appeared in The News Outlet.
It’s a Saturday morning and I’m picking up trash in downtown Youngstown.
Lo and behold, what blows down W. Federal Street, landing at my picker? A newspaper called ‘Shale Play‘ which covers Northeast Ohio shale activity exclusively.
Wondering where this came from – and assuming it was somewhere downtown – I walked to the post office where most of the local and regional newspapers bins are located.
And this paper is free.
So, I grab a copy and trot over to a local coffee shop for a read.
Truth be told, when I first approached the bin, I thought it was just industry propaganda because, well, it kind of presents itself that way.
However, the second page reveals that ‘Shale Play’ is ‘published as joint project by the Morning Journal, The Review, Salem News and the Tribune Chronicle‘.
I read it cover to cover.
While it’s obvious that there’s an overarching pro-industry slant (and nearly every single advertisement is industry-related), there were several articles that were exclusively dedicated to opposition coverage. So, there was at least some balance and journalist integrity.
Anyway, this got me to thinking: just how many different regional shale-exclusive media features are there now?
By my count, the list includes (not limited to):
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s ‘Pipeline‘
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Marcellus Shale Section
- Observer Reporter (Washington County, PA) Energy – Marcellus Section
- Akron Beacon-Journal’s Utica Shale Section
- Canton Repository, Times-Reporter & The Independent’s 72-page ‘Ohio’s Energy Rebirth‘
- The Vindicator’s ‘Shale Sheet‘
- The Business Journal’s ‘Drilling Down‘
- The News Outlet’s ‘Inside Shale‘
- New Castle News ‘Hot Topics – Marcellus Shale‘
And that’s just traditional media. Of course, there’s a mess of websites and blogs to boot.
So this, then, got me thinking: imagine if we had this type of exclusive coverage for things like: the economic impact of local food production…or technology…or smart regional planning and development…or downtown-to-downtown public transportation like high speed rail and regional riverfront and bike trail development…or even aspects of sustainable energy production that we can make happen regionally.
You know, all that idealist, ‘progressive’ stuff. Those things that are not multi-billion dollar, multinational industries nor do much by way of advertising dollars for local media…but could prove to be important, longer-term – and more sustainable – parts of an economic equation all the same…unlike natural & gas and oil which is sure to provide significant short-term economic benefit but is equally sure to fold up shop the minute the last cubic inch of resource is inevitably extracted.
Unfortunately, I doubt there will ever be a day where that paper finds itself at my feet.
And that’s ok. Obviously, natural gas & oil is something that certainly should command our attention right now.
It just can’t afford to be the only thing. And that’s something we can’t lose sight of no matter how much shale coverage is thrown our way.
But that’s for another post…