Conor Friedersdorf on the loss of local newspaper coverage. I don't know where Conor grew up, but I can assure him that local coverage was never that great to begin with. The town I grew up in had 40,000 people, the world headquarters of a major multinational chemical company, and a 70-30 (or so) split in Congressional elections. If anything interesting happened in the city (i.e. "what's with all these layoffs Dow seems to be doing now?") the Midland Daily News would be literally the last place to get information about it. So also the Ann Arbor News, which Conor explicitly mentions: as a local newspaper, it was notable mostly for conveying very little information about Ann Arbor. It was also notable for being terrible, which is why it ran into financial problems before most comparably sized newspapers.
By contrast, Durham is served by a number of blogs which keep track of at least some of the notable and interesting things happening on the local level. No big conclusion to draw from all this anecdata, except that attempting to draw big conclusions may be misguided.