In 2019, Brookings reported more than 200 counties in the United States that don’t have a local daily or weekly newspaper. This meant that there are over five million U.S. residents who don’t have access to news reports about their communities. The Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media of the University of North Carolina calls these counties “news deserts.”
Many might say that this isn’t a bigger issue than we think. With social media and websites, it’s much, much easier to access the news and various stories in our communities. We can find stories about the people we know on social media. But such stories are missing the authority that journalists hold when it comes to news. They are fact-checkers, unbiased, and don’t deliver such news for their personal interest.
Local journalists are considered the watchdogs of communities. If they’re not there to deliver the news, then many people won’t be aware of the important things that can affect them. So it’s important to remember the importance of local journalism.
Raising Local Voices
The most basic thing that local journalism does is raising local voices. We might be experiencing issues with our jobs, peers, and even the local government. So we might want to shed light on these issues and share our experiences with our fellow community members. But it’s not like we can walk to CNN’s office and ask Anderson Cooper to give us a few minutes of airtime to talk. But we can do so with our local journalists.
Local journalists are there to ensure that, as they report the news, they are also talking about people’s stories at a grassroots level.
Staying Up-to-Date with Happenings in the Community
As much as national news outlets would like to cover as many news stories as possible, they can’t. They have a limited number of spreads in the newspaper. They have limited airtime given to them by their networks. As a result, they are more concerned about reporting news on a national scale, appealing to a broader audience. A great example is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. National news platforms would talk about how many COVID-19 cases there are per state, and then on a national scale. They are not going to talk about the cases per county.
But local journalists will. This is very important to us because they will inform us of how our community is doing. They will inform us of which places to avoid if we want to maintain our health safety. They will tell us how our local hospitals are coping with the surge of cases. And, most of all, they will tell us how we can help our fellow community members — which local nonprofit organizations need resources or manpower, which hospitals need more supplies, etc.
Keeping a Sense of Community and Pride
If we want to know what’s the latest on sports news and how our teams are doing, we go to ESPN, the sports section of news platforms, or Reddit. Yes, this is effective, and we will definitely be updated on the news about our favorite teams.
But such news outlets don’t exhibit the same sense of community and pride that local journalists do when they report about our community’s sports. It’s much more exciting to go to our local news platform to keep up with Detroit Lions news with fellow Detroit residents.
Contributing to Bigger Conversations
Many might think that reporting about local news won’t really concern people from other cities or states. But that’s not necessarily true. At its core, local journalism contributes to bigger issues that affect millions of people across the country.
For example, when local journalists reported about unsanitary water and health-related repercussions on the locals, they address environmental degradation and health safety issues. When they report about small- and medium-scale businesses in our communities shut down, resulting in job losses among our community members, they contribute to conversations on the economic struggle of low-income and/or rural communities. When they report about an animal shelter closing down due to budget cuts in the local government, they are talking about animal welfare.
Many of us might say that we are responsible enough to always stay up-to-date with the latest news. Every morning, without daily, we scroll through the reports on NBC News, USA Today, and even The New York Times. When there’s a massive protest in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., we know why. When the President holds a major press conference, we always watch. But we should also start paying more attention to our local journalists.
Meta title: The Importance of Local Journalism
Meta desc: Local journalism is considered essential to our country’s freedom and democracy. But how does it affect us as individuals in our community? Here’s why local journalism is important to us.