Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Local journalists' engagement with their communities can counter false attacks on news media, journalism prof writes

Local journalism "can play an important role" in reversing the news media's lower-than ever standing among the public, driven by attacks alleging "fake news" by "enemies of the people," Damian Radcliffe, a journalism professor at the University of Oregon, writes for The Conversation.

"Local journalists are often the only journalists that most people will ever meet," Radcliffe notes. "So they play a significant role in how the wider profession is perceived." And it's in their own interests; The Rural Blog has reported several examples of the national criticism having a local impact.

Caitlyn May, editor of the Cottage Grove Sentinel in Oregon, has an informal “Meet the Editor” discussion at a local coffee shop each month. She told Radcliffe, "It’s essential that journalists leave the office and go out into the community."

Radcliffe has other, more explicit, recommendations, with links to other works, including his own:

"To succeed, local news providers must be relentlessly local and offer something different if they want people to pay for their product. They also need to be more visible, embracing opportunities for real life engagement and consciously diversifying the range of people they interview.

"According to a 2006 study by journalism professors Don Heider, Maxwell McCombs and Paula Poindexter, this means that investigative and watchdog reporting should appear alongside stories that demonstrate “caring about your community, highlighting interesting people and groups in the community, understanding the local community, and offering solutions to community problems.”

"That way, local journalists act as a check on those in power and create an informed citizenry, while also fostering a sense of community."

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