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Community journalism

Posted Friday, January 27, 2012, at 11:15 AM

I like working for a small town newspaper. I don't think I would care to work for a big outfit like the New York Times or the Washington Post. Sure, I could probably make more money, but I just don't think I would like working in a newsroom with 53 different editors and 200 reporters.

Our editorial staff here is small and we all have to get along well and help each other out. I read quite a bit about journalism and some of those big papers have a dog eat dog kind of social structure. All we try to do here is work together to put out the best newspaper we can. Fortunately, we have a lot of fun doing that.

We don't have fact checkers; we are the fact checkers. We don't have some of the sources and resources of the big dailies; the people of the community fill those roles. What we do have is a staff that knows the community; that's the heart of community journalism.

It's our job to report what is in the public interest in a fair and unbiased manner. What we try to do is write compelling, interesting stories that mirror the events or people they describe, whether they are good news or something worse. To quote Joseph Pulitzer, our job is to report the news "without fear or favor."

That can be difficult at times because journalists are people just like those we write about. All I can do as a professional is report the facts as I see and hear them and be accurate and fair. I am responsible for making sure my sources are the best and most credible I can find and I never intentionally set out to make a subject look bad. But make no mistake, if you do look bad, I have no qualms about pointing that out.

It is not in my best interest, or that of the paper to do that. We take no pleasure in reporting bad news, but it is our duty as journalists to tell the truth. Our community deserves our best effort in that respect.

This job can require thick skin. I have to live around the people I sometimes write about. I am at the same functions, meetings, events and community happenings as every one else. I have to be able to look this community in the eye.

That is part of what sets community journalism apart from those big publications. When a reporter in New York or Los Angeles walks down the street or enters an establishment, he or she is pretty much anonymous. When I walk down the street in Nevada or into Wood's Supermarket, many people know who I am.

That's why it is imperative that I do my job to the best of my ability. As long as I follow Pulitzer's axiom of reporting the news as it happens "without fear or favor" I can look the city of Nevada in the eye and know that community journalism is important and satisfying work that I am privileged to be doing.



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