Each day of 2020 presents a new development in a never-ending episode of a real-life “Twilight Zone.” While it may be exhausting, complacency is not an option. We have a responsibility to remain vigilant and address the issues facing our communities with integrity and intentionality. Of course, this is only possible with accurate, on-the-ground information and the people who provide it – local journalists.
The media we consume is connected in a careful ecosystem, and local journalism plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of that web. Heavy-hitting stories often break at the local level. Beat reporters are directly engaged with their communities and committed to telling their stories. They dig in and paint a detailed picture of pockets around the country. Localized stories create a robust portrait of our nation that larger coastal news outlets would otherwise miss.
Times have been tough for a while in journalism, and COVID-19 only made things harder. Many local outlets are making significant cuts or closing the doors altogether. Media companies must prioritize revenue to stay afloat, but what’s popular isn’t always what matters most. Combined with an increase in digital demand, reporters are under a great deal of pressure. Local journalism is in trouble – and so are we.
Our nation is more polarized than ever, and trust in news sources has plummeted. The work of local journalists is needed to:
The future of these public crusaders and the survival of their profession relies on our willingness to protect them. The reality is that most of us have not had to pay for our news. An abundance of free resources on the internet has upended the once thriving business model that local news outlets are built upon. While the internet offers a wide array of diverse voices that are just a few clicks away, it can’t promise the same degree of focused listening, close observation and personal investment that local journalists pour into their work to better their own communities.
We must support local journalism. To do your part, consider the following:
If we don’t act, we risk losing one of American democracy’s most vital assets.