The significance of community-based journalism in today’s digital society has become increasingly clear after only a few months of recent heightened pandemic limitations, which followed a period of economic restraint. As print publications suffered the same fate as their more established competitors, many publications turned to online news outlets to keep them in business through the end of print. But a new type of news outlet was also born on the Internet, and that was community-built content. Reporters who were previously employed to cover a given city or given local news beats now found their way to a new venue, and their first duty was to bring local news back to life through the efforts of volunteer community reporters.
How Does Local News Function
In many ways, community journalism resembles traditional journalism. Local news, in fact, has been a tradition for decades, dating back to the very first newspapers published in the community. And while community reporting was once all about local content, it is now much more concerned with the broader distribution of information and the ability for reporters and editors to find and access sources of information within communities larger than they are. This has resulted in a new style of journalism that is much more democratic in nature, and is much less driven by a narrow interest in one area of the news.
Community journalists have faced certain challenges in the past, and those have only increased since the turn of the millennium. Many newspapers and news organizations laid off a great deal of their local reporting staff in recent years, and those who remained had to be creative and find new ways to fill those jobs. The result was often less than inspired work, as some reporters turned in stories with little if any local sourcing or little if any interest in the region. And while there has been a renewed interest in the kinds of stories that might be covered, the general trend seems to have been towards more global and less local news. This has led to journalism problems.
There is another problem with the trend that has affected community and local reporting. As news agencies have cut costs, they have tended to cut back on the number of stories that they want to tell. This has led to a general decrease in the quality of local news. The result has been that many papers have chosen to only publish a portion of the stories that they originally ordered or requested. In some cases, newspapers have simply given up on the community, and have moved on to bigger news.
Fortunately, there has been a counter movement to the demise of local news. It has come from the business community. Many companies have started to develop online news channels that bring the business of the day to their website, rather than forcing their reporters to report for hours on end on whatever event they happened to be covering. This allows the business of the day to get the attention of their customers, and give them something interesting to talk about during their lunch break. In many cases, this new approach has led to a tremendous rise in audience interest in local events.
In the end, it comes down to this: no one likes to read dry, boring stories about local events. But everyone loves to read interesting stories, especially about local business and industry. With all of the resources that modern journalists now have, the fight is on to continue to tell those stories in an engaging way.