Saturday, February 02, 2008

An exemplar of rural and community journalism changes, offering essential lessons in the craft

Examples of community journalism are easier to come by than a clear-cut definition of the term. For years, the Point Reyes Light in western Marin County, California, has been an exemplar. The weekly newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize for public service in 1979, for its coverage of the Synanon drug-rehabilitation group that turned into a religion, but well before that had established itself as an essential part of community life and function. That is less true today, and the change teaches lessons.

A little over two years ago, the Light was sold to a newcomer, and things changed. So reports Jonathan Rowe, who lives in the village of Point Reyes Station, writing in the latest issue of Columbia Journalism Review. His article, “The Language of Strangers,” highlights how central local and concerns are to community journalism, and what can happen when readers think their needs and wishes are being ignored.

Beyond the ups and downs of the Light, also reported here and here, Rowe’s report is worth reading for his broader points about weekly newspapers, points rarely made in the pages of national journalism reviews. For our take on it, with some additional information and links to Rowe's article and others, click here.

No comments: