Dan Barry at The New York Times:
Forget dashing foreign correspondents and “All the President’s Men”: Daily journalism often comes down to local reporters like Mr. Brandt. Overworked, underpaid and unlikely to appear as cable-news pundits, they report the day’s events, hold officials accountable and capture those moments — a school honor, a retirement celebration — suitable for framing.
But they are an endangered species being nudged toward extinction by the most important news story in decades. The coronavirus.
The economic paralysis caused by the pandemic has clobbered a newspaper industry already on the mat. With revenues plummeting, substantial layoffs, furloughs and pay reductions have followed in newsrooms across the country.
Meanwhile, the hedge funds and private equity firms that own many newspapers often siphon away profits rather than reinvest in local journalism. Frequently associated with this business model is the Alden Global Capital hedge fund, which controls The Mercury, Mr. Brandt’s employer for 23 years.
One thought on “An Ode to the Local Reporter”
So many of us current and former reporters cut our teeth at small newspapers, working our way up based on how well we covered local news. Today, however, it takes just five minutes reading your local Nextdoor to see what happens to a community when there are no actual trained news journalists — versus facile “content creators” and, OMG even worse, “story tellers” — explaining what’s going on at city hall, the hard facts about proposed development projects, or what caused that big pillar of greasy pink smoke billowing from Jeremy Story’s backyard. Local journalism has to make a big come-back, and soon.