The Need for Local Journalism More Important Than Ever Before

By: Terry A. Yates, Jr | tyates@newzgroup.com

It’s been said over and over again: the newspaper is in decline. Around the world, countless newspapers have stopped the presses for good, selling off to bigger publishing conglomerates, going fully digital or just closing their doors for good.

The one thing that remains undeniably true is, according to former Washington Post editor Bill Prady, “[…] the decline of newspapers is not the same thing as the decline of local journalism.”

This remains so because the need for local news coverage will always remain strong. People need to know what’s going on, not only on the global level but on the local level as well. In addition, when no one is watching what’s going on in our institutions, what depths of corruption or malfeasance could occur?

The need for local journalism is such that even small press outlets like The Village Green, have popped up to cover the vacuum that the loss of print journalism left behind. Run by two editors, who work predominantly out of their homes, The Village Green covers two North Jersey towns, with the help from a state initiative that puts millions of dollars of state budget into community journalism. This type of public funding has been well established for television and radio, however, its likes have never been seen for reporting.

With this sort of government funding, the notion of ethical concern arise. Especially if stipulations are fitted to the funding, and the level of intrusion inherent therein, a form of state-run media could be established. As of yet, no real outcry has come from this, partly due to the changing of the times and the need for local journalism has never been more readily apparent.

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New Jersey funds these digital local journalism outfits through the sale of old public television licenses, forming a fund with which to fuel local reporting projects and promote civic engagement. As always, an informed, engaged public is foundational and the having local public-service journalism that you can trust leads to a trust in media. Local journalism is often the front line in improving media literacy and countering the influence of social media disseminating “fake news” and propelling false information in such ready abundance.

In order to get said grants, the journalistic prospects must work with local universities, and provide evidence that the work they’re doing is beneficial to their community. This journalism consortium largely puts its focus on funding projects that cover places that have little to no community journalism and low income and minority communities. It’s not unlike any national public broadcasting company or public radio station.

Other digital journalism focused media groups use subscription models to pay for journalists and coverage they provide. They also run events and host pledge drives, eschewing the need for clickbait style journalism and depending on ad campaigns that may not align with what readers want. Report for America, whose focus is to make journalism a national service program, pays for half of their fellows’ salaries for the first year and a quarter the following year. This allows local journalism to thrive in this new digital pioneer and to add true journalistic “oomph” in the digital newsroom, without breaking the bank trying to provide it on such a granular level.

Regardless of funding, the local journalism of New Jersey has proven that these small digital outlets can form a sort of information matrix that replaces what the local news press did for centuries: covering communities on the hyperlocal level. According to Pew Research, while the amounts of employees at newspapers have declined over the last few years, digital-native news press has seen a steady rise over that same time.

No matter the evolution of the news media, Newz Group will always be there to offer comprehensive media monitoring, no matter the format. Our new Client Portal offers sentiment graphs, analytical data that tracks influence and result velocity along with internet sourced keyword trends and suggestions. The Client Portal searches social media, online news and blogs, offering the most comprehensive coverage on a hyperlocal level. Stay up to date and current with the evolution of local journalism, in all its forms, and let’s help you find you!