COLUMN: Always just a phone call away
I was told at one of my previous jobs I am “too accessible.” To this day, I am not sure what that means.
I have always held the principle the more accessible I am, the better the newspaper becomes.
When someone calls about a story, and if I have the time, I cover it. If our deadline gets changed because of holidays, I try to cover the Monday night meetings. It is essential for the editor of a community paper to cover the community but also be part of the community.
The lack of being present in the community too often creates a lack of access to critical information, whether it be from human sources or documents required to report the news fairly and accurately.
While the large media conglomerates use the same stories in multiple papers and others publish the same “news” items over and over with different headlines and different authors, hyperlocal journalism, such as the type we practice here, is thriving, and it isn’t easy.
People often don’t realize the citizen journalists we rely on for our content. Although I have tried, and continue trying, to encourage everyone to let us know about events and other things happening in our community, our reader-generated content is vital for our hyperlocal news coverage.
Brock Duncan, Tessa Taylor, Sherri Muchow, Kim Hodshon and so many others likely don’t realize the important role they play as our “citizen journalists.”
Cory Spiers and I reserve the duty of reporting the “hard” or “bad” news and other topics across the spectrum.
Local community journalism is characterized by a mix of crime reporting and news coverage of fires and accidents as well as positive human-interest stories about social club activities, cultural events, health, sports and schools.
Citizen journalists rely heavily on first-hand accounts and personal experiences, which is often just as important as access to critical information.
One definition of the word community is, “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.”
Our staff, our citizen journalists and our readers exemplify that.
Brandon Roberts is publisher and editor of the News-Journal. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 828-765-7169.