Journalism Speaker: John Osborn

Courtesy of The Harvard Press

Courtesy of The Harvard Press

Julia Ciccolini, Staff Writer, Social Media Manager

Thursday September 22, guest speaker John Osborn visited Fitchburg State and gave a presentation concerning journalism and its current presence in our country and local communities. 


Osborn is an editor of The Harvard Press. This is a local newspaper, based in Harvard, that was established in 2006. Osborn joined and became an editor in 2013. In an eight town cluster, Harvard is the only town with an independent paper. Bolton and Stow share a paper, Ayer and Shirley share the Nashoba Valley which is another local paper in the area, and Acton-Boxborough and Littleton no longer have a local newspaper. The Harvard Press circulates throughout 1,100 houses in Harvard out of the 1,700 households. 


In his presentation Osborn explained that throughout this country, there are many areas called “News Deserts”. This is a region where there are not a lot of local papers, meaning that the area’s local news is not being represented as well. Since 2005, there has been a loss of roughly 2,100 weekly papers since 2005. There are many issues surrounding not having local papers including a decrease in voter participation, spread of misinformation, higher taxes, and local news disappearing due to the purchasing of corporate predators within the news. These issues help to stress the importance of local newspapers, especially a paper like The Harvard Press in an area surrounded by places without local papers.


Osborn stressed the importance of community support for local papers. Since The Harvard Press is a nonprofit organization, the paper needs subscribers to help keep it running, as well as advertising to make up for the difference since the subscriptions will not completely cover the costs. The Harvard Press is continuously evolving and innovating more ways to deepen their coverage. Some tasks they are currently doing are working on special projects and leveraging their relationships with local universities and companies to help spread their knowledge and content.


Along with his fellow editors, Osborn also has an important role of clearing each article for the press. Osborn explained that an important step of this process is double checking for bias and perspectives. It is important that within a story, multiple perspectives are highlighted and it is not just told from one side. Sometimes, the editors have to send their reporters to interview more people from a story and add more to their side before publishing an article. 


Osborn’s presentation was hosted by the Current Events and Service Learning class. Many students from the class attended the presentation and were able to learn a lot from it. In an interview, Julia, a student in the class remarked that it was very “eye opening” and elaborated on how it helped to change her perspective of the news with today’s technology and the good old fashioned paper. Another student Anna had similar thoughts and thinks that it is “important” and “good to be updated on what is happening” regarding local news.