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Friday, June 05, 2009

Local news coverage (Was: In support of getting out and looking around for yourself)

Part of the publicity problem is the lack of a local newspaper that concentrates in community or political news for the whole county.

Some truly local newspapers around the country report on what happens at every council meeting, every school board meeting, personnel changes in local governments and school administrations, etc.

Not here!

The Times and Examiner report very, very little in the way of local news.  And the Examiner is not delivered and rarely found in street boxes in my part of the county.

The Post has has some, but it is limited because local news is not really the Post's priority, and Prince George's is only one of numerous jurisdictions competing for shrinking resources and staff.  Rosalind Helderman, who had been doing a good job covering the county for a couple of years has recently been reassigned to Virginia, and it is not clear who, if anyone, will fill the void she leaves.

The Gazette is really the closest thing we have to a local paper (since the demise of the Journal).  Unfortunately, it is only a weekly, and does not reach the whole county.  It is not delivered where I live (inside the Beltway), and it does not list my community in any of its lists of communities. I've never been able to find the Gazette's community-based columns online.  The Gazette is almost never available at my nearest public library (despite promises from a former publisher).

From time to time the Gazette has promised better online coverage on a daily or near daily basis, but has not really succeeded.   Daily updates tend to be spotty, the organization of their web site sucks, and I really wish they had the ability to setup RSS feeds by community, topic, reporter and a combination of any two.

I try to use my blog to get out some of the local news that is hard to find, and there are others who do the same; some with mailing lists (especially Jacob Andoh), and some with blogs (Joyce Dowling, for example).

But Jacob, Joyce, and all the others attempting to spread news have limited time and resources.

I have been willing to disseminate, either on my blog, or through the mailing lists, or both, news sent to me in form of press releases, etc., especially ones relating to crime, education, or having county-wide political interest.  I suspect the others might also.

I do receive materials from a handful of elected officials, but they tend to come in a format full of graphics and screwy codes that makes them difficult to pass on without substantial editing.

One thing I think would be useful is if some of you out there would volunteer as semi-formal "correspondents" by picking an area of interest--such as regularly attending council or school board meetings or zoning hearing--and reporting on them on a regular basis in a consistent, at least semi-standardized format, to Jacob, or Joyce, or me, or anyone else who wants to run a blog or mailing list.

I rarely post anything about municipalities in the county because it is more than I can handle.  I've tried in the past to maintain links to community-specific blogs and mailing lists, but they seem to rise and disappear so fast that I can't keep up.

Since the established press--"MSM"--doesn't cover us very well, perhaps those of us who care need to get a bit better organized.

On Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 8:22 AM, linda <lindasaffell@pgferals.org> wrote [in part]:

Hi Anna, and All,
. . .
Thanks Anna, it has puzzled me why either local organizations and businesses in PG are not as good at generating the kind of "hook" that interests the media as other counties, or why the media seem to have a particular interest in putting PG down.  As folks can see, my organization recently was able to get some good press; and the reporters and photographers that I've met, have all been intelligent, engaged people.  We all know that they can't cover every story that happens.  But why is it so consistent how PG is covered or not?  I'm pretty baffled.  I have HEARD of the idea of editorial board meetings -- and note that the BoE managed to get into one of those just recently -- but don't really understand how that is different from getting a beat reporter to an event or to learn about a project.

Someone needs to start doing "Publicity 101" for us in PG! . . .


1 comment:

  1. I know a former Gazette reporter personally and he says they don't pay well, have some unreasonable expectations, and are generally not good employers. I am working on a PR Fair, though.