For seven years, beginning in 2010, the married couple Lissa Harris and Julia Reischel ran an online newsgathering and aggregating operation called the Watershed Post, devoted to covering the Catskills. The name’s emphasis was significant, hinting at the region’s complex relationship with New York City, which draws much of its drinking water from six reservoirs west of the Hudson, and which, as a result, regulates much of the area’s land use. Harris, though “shipped out to be educated,” as she puts it, at boarding school, Smith College, and, later, M.I.T., is a seventh-generation Delaware County resident. Her great-great-great grandfather Isaac Birdsall was the postmaster for the hamlet of New Kingston, walking eleven sloping miles on his regular route, and his son John founded the Margaretville Telephone Company, in 1916, stringing wires between scattered farms. Her mother, Karen, ran Catskill On Line, in the nineteen-nineties, bringing the Internet to the immediate area. For Harris, who is forty-two, the job of distributing local news—of improving the lines of communication in a broad rural network—felt like a calling. Then came Trumpism. Or, rather, then came the steady dismantling of the business model for independent digital media, by Facebook and Google, followed by Donald… Read full this story
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