When I started my undergrad studies in journalism, I was a starry-eyed rookie wanting to change the world with words. However, the deeper I got in to journalism, the more disillusioned I became, until of course, I started working in local journalism.
In Boston, while studying, I also started a social justice website. What started as an assignment though, evolved into a full-fledged platform for the voices of the locals. The impact that such journalism had on the community was remarkable. The community started recognizing one another, started acknowledging their shared troubles and pains; it was like having meaningful discussions over a cup of coffee, but instead of sitting around a campfire, these were discussions through the newspaper.
After this stint though, I drifted in and out of journalism, until I landed back in local journalism through Black Press.
I am starting to once again remember why local journalism is so powerful and what it is all about.
Over the years, journalism, reporters, press, or media in general has earned quite a notorious reputation; not to mention the “fake news” brigade that has maligned the good work done by several amazing journalists.
However, it is when you come to the small communities that you truly start understanding the real power, the real potential and the real purpose of journalism.
For a small, tight-knit community like ours, the town’s news outlets, without any competition or race for breaking news quickly start realizing what they are all about and that is purely about news, information and maintaining a record of events.
The reason I am sharing this happy realization with you is because this insight is as much for the journalists working in the industry or those thinking of working in it in the future, as it is for the people they are serving.
A few days back we ran a story about the old age security aid and someone wrote to us saying we were giving out factually incorrect information.
Now even though our story was based on the government’s press release, instead of dismissing this email we pursued the story further, asked for clarifications from the ministry and put out a story with these new insights.
The person who had written in to us, was extremely happy that we had bothered to look in to it and had followed up with the ministry.
And this happens a lot in our newsrooms all across B.C.
This, however is a two-way street.
You, as a community, also needs to share with our newsrooms and have faith in us to put out a well-rounded, objective story.
But it is hard, hard to earn the trust of the community and I hope this community realizes that journalism for our newsrooms is not about the sensational quotes, gossip, the misleading headlines to get readers’ attention, but about bringing the community together, keeping the community informed about their neighbours, and to keep the community involved.
So stay involved, stay informed.