New Jersey seems to have more than its fair share of discouraging news lately.
The "bridgegate" scandal surrounding the closing of some George Washington Bridge lanes just refuses to go away, as politicians still are calling for "independent" investigations into possible abuse of power by Gov. Christie and his minions.
And now, it looks like New Jersey residents will have a tougher time keeping up with local politics and finding out the real scoop on local issues. The Star-Ledger, the Garden State's biggest paper with circulation throughout the state, recently announced major layoffs including more than a quarter of its newsroom staff.
The layoffs, according to the publisher, are part of a plan to consolidate operations among several papers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that are owned by the Star-Ledger's parent, Advance Publications.
It sounds just like what Gannett did several years ago in Westchester and Rockland Counties, just north of New York City. Gannett consolidated about a dozen smaller, local dailies and put them under the combined banner of The Journal News. Despite their "We are local" slogan, the paper has done a pathetic job of covering local government and politics, and local school districts.
It's not the fault of the reporters. It's simply that there aren't enough of them left anymore to cover local news. So now, with little newspaper oversight, politicians and school boards are often free to operate in the dark and do things that an uninformed public learns when it's too late.
I'm afraid that may be the fate of our neighbors across the Hudson, as the layoffs and consolidations hurt the papers' ability to report and be local watchdogs.
And if that's not bad enough, New Jersey recently was cited as the worst state in the nation for business, inheriting that dubious honor from New York.
A tough place to do business? Ask The Star-Ledger.