As the future of the local newspaper seems not just to be in question, but rather, way past that point – picture the local newspaper as the Titanic, and its various reporters and editors floating about in life-rafts in the middle of a dark ocean wondering not when rescue is coming, but rather if it is coming at all – I can’t help but to be saddened when I read stories like the two that follow.
One story is on the national radar, but still, the footwork and time that the reporters took to put it together is obvious and admirable. The writing is thoughtful, cogent, and informative. It concerns this guy:
Daniel Boyd is accused by the FBI of being a Muslim terrorist, and yet, the local paper(s) managed to capture the various aspects of his life in such a way that central to the story is the mystery of how a Muslim, living amongst Bible-toting, conservative Christians in the midst of the Bible-belt has managed to garner so much goodwill from his neighbors. Read it here. (Of course, none of that changes the fact that FBI agents found – count ’em – 27,000 rounds of ammo at his home.)
The second story is purely a local story. In rural Caldwell county north of Charlotte, 6 officers have been shot responding to various calls in the last 11 months. Our tireless, local reporter, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., rides along with even more tireless and downright heroic Officer Mark Isaacs on his night patrol of 100 square miles of country roads and woods with no streetlights. Wootsen manages to capture the dark tension, eerie solitude, and dangerous nature of what the Caldwell Officers are faced with on a nightly basis. Read the article here.
Cpl. Mark Isaacs of the Caldwell Sheriff’s Office listens to a passenger during a traffic stop.
There are things that local television and local radio just cannot, or more to the point, will not do. These two mediums, on a local level at least, are about car wrecks and the weather. They are not known for their thoughtful or poignant reporting.The question remains, if local newspapers in fact to go belly up, who will do the local stories? Who will go in depth? Ultimately, who will care?