I love things that are on the local level. Because, really, it’s all that matters.
The most effective politics happen in city halls and county government buildings. Community is only built on the local level. While there are some great broad-range nonprofits, the most effective groups that I’ve seen operate within communities.
And, perhaps most relevant to my path in life — local journalism. The stories that people care most about are the stories that are happening in their backyards.
I like things based on the local level and that are centered around community that I’m taking an honors seminar at Towson University this semester about why community still matters in the 21st century. Andrew Reiner, who’s the professor, has written some pretty cool stuff on the subject.
All of this to say…community, journalism and community journalism are all things that are really, really important to me.
It’s likely that my first job out of college won’t be at the Washington Post or the New York Times. I’ll have to start somewhere local. Which
Which, of course, is tragic. Local papers are dying. It seems like every other week there’s a story of a local paper or media outlet closing its doors, firing staff or being bought up by a bigger paper. It happened locally just last year, when the Carol County Times was scooped up by the Baltimore Sun.
I’m obviously invested in the survival of local papers (hell, I help run a local paper right now).
While I’m a fan of the New Yorker, I don’t often turn to their website (or glossy pages) for practical guidance. I usually look their way for entertaining longform stories that’ll make me, y’know, sit down and read.
Instead, I found a piece about how some local papers are surviving and even thriving. It had some surprisingly practical advice.
Vauhini Vara points out that the most successful papers, from a financial standpoint, are those that set monetary goals in advance. It allows readers and donors to work toward a goal.
Another, somewhat successful, model that is pointed out in the article is that of the editorially driven outlet. A paper that doesn’t write solely to get clicks and shares on the Internet, but a paper that makes “he case that it’s absolutely essential that [the paper] exist[s]—and otherwise the world would not be nearly as happy a place.”
That, that right there, appeals to my naive, optimistic and populist soul. Local politics and local communities need to be informed. The only way for those groups to be informed is for local papers to continue to exist and thrive. They are absolutely essential.