The end is near ... for newspapers. Everywhere you look, American papers are on a crash diet, determined to lose weight to the point of anorexia. From coast to coast, to deep in the heartland, newsrooms are shedding venerable editors, reporters, columnists, photographers, artists and bureaus, both foreign and domestic. Even the largest nerve center, The New York Times, is letting go. And I was recently informed by a gubernatorial candidate at a round robin forum that the Hartford Courant is down from four to one full-time reporter covering our state's capitol. I sure hope our nation's longest operating script budgets enough coffee for this tired, unfortunate soul.

Who profits from this entire news anemia? Not the newspapers. Espirit de corps suffers when another desk empties. Not you. Less information makes readers imagine the facts and guess the truth. Perhaps politicians, movers, and shakers stand to gain. There is always more power and plunder when no one is looking. But pundits of ideological purity make out the best. Those with the biggest mike can conform and contort to their heart's content. Thanks above for Jon Stewart. I can't fathom our lot without his seasoned cynicism.

So, I thought I'd help out our ailing rags with someone who knows the biz and someone you know who knows the biz. We worked diligently to compose 10 top reasons to scan your local paper like this one.

10. Local advertisers. OK, ads are the last thing I read. But let me throw a bone to the Chamber of Commerce. Mom-and-pop shops, restaurateurs, reality pros, contractual contractors and service aces are real neighbors who live and breathe side by side you. Your patronage determines their fate. If they don't perform satisfactorily, they will hear about it Saturday at junior's ball game.

9. Local obituaries. Who's up? Who's down? You're not in it. It is catharsis for many who know they are granted another week on this heavenly earth. The sad part is that we learn how terrific too late about a nearby friend. The words may read rote, but they are genuine in love and loss.

8. Local police blotter. Who's in trouble? Who made another dumb mistake? You get even more catharsis knowing you didn't screw up another week. If this section doesn't give you enough incentive to obey the law, nothing else will. Crime does not pay. Just a quick note-keep keeping kids names out. Most "yuteful" indiscretions are exactly that.

7. Local election scoreboards. Everyone of every party wants to preserve our ancient New England farm and village small town appeal, improve the education of our burgeoning offspring, and lower taxes to zero. There isn't a distinguishable difference between a Dem and Rep. What amazes me is that local pols are you. I still can't really wrap my mind around the notion that an election victory results in the privilege to listen to a droning public until midnight. Yet that is what volunteers do. They exchange sleep loss for a plural conscience (most of the time).

6. Local sports. See Johnny run. See Jane fall. See Billy shake it off. See Mary triumph against all odds. To see so much effort expended in a worthy cause with the only award being part of something bigger than you, restores my faith in competition. In contrast, who cares if the Yanks spent 3 billion bucks over eight years on players so you can have a momentary feel of victory while you fork out a year's salary to drink 10-buck beer in support of corporate moguls? There, I said it.

5. Local reporters. They labor for bupkis into the wee hours covering contentious town meetings so you need never get off the Barker Lounge to understand our little city's dysfunctional sausage-making ways. We've had Mad Hatter tea parties long before tea bag wing nuts discovered them this past summer. It's because of that young kid in the corner with a pad and pencil who believes in citizenry, press freedom and democracy in action, that you don't have to get food all over yourself within asylum walls. They write about stuff that only you would care about.

4. Local columnists. Great ones like me get to tell you what to think because I know it all. Or, at least I think I do. Hope swells deep in my soul that I can inform and entertain. Anyone who has ever been granted this privilege feels the same way as me. You can take that to the bank.

3. Local letters to the editor. You and your neighbors have the unmitigated audacity and courage to reveal to one and all how much and little you know. You actually put in ink what you really think. You are insightful and ignorant. You take no prisoners and should be locked up. You speak from the heart and sometimes, the mind. You complain and suggest. You are way off the mark and hit the bull's eye. You are really dumb and positively brilliant. In short, you got guts. I admire that. It is because of you that I read the rest of the local paper. Just try getting published in The New York Times or Wall Street Journal.

2. Local papers are all about you. You walk, talk, and breathe life into your community. You make the news. Whether you like it or not, your local news is yours to choose or lose.

1. A quote. The No. 1 reason to read any newspaper regardless of its local, regional, or national scope can be sized up in the following words by the long-deceased and ground-breaking former publisher of the Washington Post, Phil Graham. "So let us today drudge on about our inescapably impossible task of providing every week a first rough draft of history that will never really be completed about a world we can never really understand."

That says it all. I can't add another word to describe the importance of the print media. But rest assured. I'll try again next month.

Dan Vasone's column is published each month in the Fairfield Citizen.