Margaret Sullivan’s dire warning in her Nov. 25 Style column, “A looming death knell for local journalism,” about the loss of local newspapers, was timely and important.

Local newspapers have been a watchdog of the people since the founding of our nation. Time and again, journalists in small towns and communities have spoken truth to power by uncovering stories about local government that vested interests would prefer to keep hidden.

Economic factors and the ever-growing rise of social media have triggered an alarming decline in local journalism. In New York state, for example, the number of newspapers has decreased by 34 percent since 2004.

But despair over this trend must not paralyze us into resignation or fatalism. This year, the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) launched a groundbreaking initiative to tackle the crisis of local journalism in the digital age and make recommendations on how the legal and business sectors can protect local news in New York — and throughout the country.

NYSBA has brought together experts from different sectors, including media, legal and business. Hearings have been held around the state, and a report will be issued soon that considers whether there are appropriate legal responses to the crisis.

The death of local news media is unthinkable. The loss of a robust free press in towns, villages and small cities would have disastrous implications for our democracy and way of life. NYSBA is working to propose solutions to ensure the continued vitality of this bedrock of democracy.

Hank Greenberg, New York

The writer is president of the
New York State Bar Association