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The Importance Of Local Journalism


Last week's shooting in Annapolis didn't happen at a major national news organization but at the headquarters of one of the oldest local newspapers in America. The Capital has been published in Annapolis, Md., for more than a century. The gunman killed Gerald Fischman, Robert Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, Wendi Winters. Every tribute to them talked about how much they loved their jobs, loved serving their city and loved covering local news. Every day, local news outlets around the country tell stories about the fabric of their communities - rural, urban and suburban - connecting them intimately to the people they serve.

On Twitter this week, Nyssa Kruse, a news reporting intern at the Hartford Courant, listed some of the things that she had done during her time there in a viral post. She's covered six graduations, a zone and planning board meeting, the opening of a new restaurant. In her post, she said she wanted to explain the value of local news because she feels like no one understands what journalists do and who they are, so we reached out to Nyssa and other local journalists to tell us in their own words why they do what they do.

NYSSA KRUSE: If local journalists aren't out there telling people, you know, what happened at the city council meeting or where they can go to cool off if you don't have air conditioning, a lot of people won't know.

CORRIE MACLAGGAN: I'm Corrie MacLaggan. I'm the managing editor of The Texas Tribune. When we cover a big story at the Texas capitol, we are incredibly familiar with all of the hallways of that pink granite Statehouse because we've spent hours and hours covering committee hearings and House floor debate there.

DAVID OVALLE: My name's David Ovalle. I'm a staff writer at the Miami Herald for the past 16 years, so people in Miami want to know what crime is happening, what's going on in the courthouse, everything from - how is sea level rise affecting the streets? - and the flooding where you live to, you know, how transportation is going to be affected on the roads you travel to and from work.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Landon Shroder is the publisher and editorial director of RVA magazine in Richmond, Va.

LANDON SHRODER: Being able to make sense of the immigration debate for local people throughout Virginia, we've received a steady stream of emails, tweets that have all shown their gratitude on us being able to report from those spaces in those spaces, so for us and my news team, you know, we'll continue motoring in those spaces. And we view that as a sacred responsibility.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: As Nyssa Kruse reminded people on Twitter, local journalists - we don't make much money. We work long hours. It's not just altruistic because we are members of the communities we cover. We're behind you in the grocery store, beside you in the pew. Sometimes we make mistakes. But please know we are not the enemy. She said, we care about you. And we're always ready to listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF THIS WILL DESTROY YOU'S "QUIET") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

United States & World Weekend Edition Sunday