Opinion & Editorial

Local journalism matters because our communities matter

As the number of community newspapers shrinks across the U.S., the ripple effect can be felt throughout the industry. The disappearance of local, small town papers puts more and more communities in the dark about what’s happening around them, and regional to national outlets are struggling — and in many cases — unable to pick up the slack. Especially because publications like the Associated Press rely on information reported by journalists with boots on the ground; they can’t do their job to break national news when the team they’re relying on can’t cover it.
Journalism matters now more than ever is the theme for this year’s National Newspaper Week, but I would argue a step further that it’s local journalism we should be even more concerned about losing. We’ve already seen its effect, when papers shut down or bought out by media companies that know nothing about the cities they’re supposed to be covering.
This reaches beyond the world of journalism. Communities deserve to have a local paper: to hold officials accountable and maintain transparency, to inform parents what’s happening with the school district or at sporting events and to see what’s new in the community. Without it, we turn to Facebook and community pages where you can’t always get the full story, or to regional papers that will only dedicate a small section to your town — if it’s mentioned at all.
Distrust in the media has been growing for years, finally accumulating to a chant we all know, “Fake News.” Not everyone is going to be good at their job, and those bad actors have helped tarnish the reputation of journalism. The first rule of journalism by the Society of Professional Journalists is, “Seek truth and report it,” but it seems like finding the truth is getting harder nowadays, and as journalists we need to do better to uphold our ethics. (Side note: If anyone ever wants to talk journalism ethics with me, reach out because it’s one of my favorite things to discuss; seriously, I have “seek truth” tattooed on my upper arm.)
As a Eugene-based freelancer, there’s not much that I can do to affect the national narrative about journalists right now — and I don’t need to. Instead, I’m focusing on my passion of revitalizing local journalism. Whether it’s with The Creswell Chronicle, Fern Ridge Review or Tribune News of Junction City, my mission is to help establish trust with the community that I’m covering.
Journalists have always been serving the people and public interest, but when the people we serve don’t trust us, we have to listen and show them why they should. I may not be able to influence the nation, but I can listen to my community and make sure the work that I’m doing showcases that interest.
Local journalism matters, and we aren’t going to leave you without a place to get your news. When people in Eugene are surprised that Creswell or Fern Ridge has a paper, I tell them about it with pride. There aren’t many community papers left, and while Creswell should be fortunate to have The Chronicle, we should be fortunate to have a community that cares about what is happening in it, and turns to us to tell them about it.



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