Stories about people who need help, and those who step up to aid them, are a staple of local journalism.
Our latest print issue of the RN&R contains both kinds of stories; our cover piece about 23 displaced renters combines the themes. From the Do Drop In Center in Carson City to Reno’s Black Wall Street, we celebrate the caring people who help neighbors who need assistance, often through no fault of their own.
But it’s not enough to merely describe suffering and praise the people and agencies who try to alleviate the pain. Our story about the displaced tenants from the Carson Pines Apartments, for example, also underlines the need for more accountability for landlords. And it exemplifies the necessity to create better community resources so that local governments aren’t caught flat-footed when citizens are unexpectedly thrust into dire circumstances.
Our brief about a boy who is facing a second open-heart surgery that threatens to bankrupt his family is a plea for assistance—but it also is a symptom of our profit-driven health care system, which is subject to the whims of middle-man insurance companies.
Local journalism brings national issues down to the street level. Some stories evoke empathy and generate contributions. In the larger context, they inform readers of what’s happening around them, and what ought to change.
It’s our job to put our community under a spotlight, to show folks what’s happening behind the curtain and how things can be made better. That’s what we’ll lose if local news organizations go extinct.
I’m a dinosaur from the Printazoic Era, but I’m excited that many young journalists I know share my view of the profession.
Whether there will still be local publications where they can tell those stories in the coming years is another matter. That’s up to the community as well.