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  • James Townsend

The Importance of Local News... and Keeping it Alive

When I moved to Portland back in 2000, I loved reading the local newspaper.  Each weekend the Portland Review and Observer would show up on our porch, and it gave me a brief but valuable look at what was going in in the community.  Birth announcements, wedding announcements, local government, current events, obituaries, and local high school sports news all included in a free weekly product.


Over time, that newspaper seemed to get thinner and thinner, and the contents seemed less and less local.  Stories that were written locally and about local people and events were slowly replaced with repackaged articles from other Lansing area communities. 


Today, I am not even sure it is printed anymore.  But the local news is still important to communities like Portland.   Local news helps build community engagement.  It educates citizens and helps preserve culture.  It helps us all stay connected with what is happening in our community. 


The Portland Area Historical society does a great job of sharing historic articles from the Portland Review and Observer on the Facebook page.  These historic articles give a great glimpse of what living in Portland looked like years ago. 


I started The Portland Beacon back in August 2017 as an effort to at least partially fill the local news void that was developing in the community.  Since then, the Beacon has posted more than 4,100 pieces of local news and information. 


While I would love to do a regular printed version, it just is not practical. I priced it out and it is well beyond what the Beacon can afford.  Today we use the website (, social media, and our daily and weekly email newsletters to share local news as best as we can. 


According to the Local News Initiative 2023 report, Ionia County only has two local news outlets remaining.  One is the Ionia Sentinel-Standard newspaper, and the other is The Portland Beacon.


A 2023 PBS report titled “How the loss of local newspapers fueled political divisions in the U.S.” states that more than 2,000 local newspapers have closed in the past few decades.  What we have happening here in Portland meets the national trend.


Today I am asking you to please consider supporting the Portland Beacon and our mission “to brief the residents of Portland, Michigan, about the current affairs of this community, by serving as a fair, accurate and transparent information source.”  Without your support, the days of The Portland Beacon may be limited. 


As a reader, your clicks, likes, shares and comments really do help.  Our social media platforms use reader engagement to drive who else sees those posts.


We are always looking for new local advertisers.  We offer affordable options for even the smallest businesses and your sponsorship supports local journalism right here in the community.


Subscribing to our daily or weekly email newsletters also gives us data to show perspective advertisers how many local residents value the content of The Beacon. You can subscribe for either at


If you as a reader are interested in contributing funds to help us cover our costs, that would be greatly appreciated.  You can get more information on how to do so by check or by PayPal at


We are always looking for new local advertisers as well.  We offer affordable options for even the smallest businesses and your sponsorship supports local journalism right here in the community.


While we are a very small operation, we do have substantial costs.  Your financial support helps cover administrative costs of the site and helps pay for our handful or paid contributors.  



Diane Fish
Diane Fish
Jul 03

Being a former R&O employee, I saw first hand the impact locals news had on our community. I was thinking the other day, it was time to make another donation to the Beacon. Thanks for the reminder. I urge all of your readers to send support your way. I appreciate your efforts, Jim.

Diane Fish


Dennis Strahle
Dennis Strahle
Jun 29

Thank you, Jim for keeping our local news alive!

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