Several things came together to prompt me to create this site. As a freelance writer, I attend conferences with fellow journalists, many of them reporting on beats for local papers. Every year, more and more reporters are being laid off. And, every year, I realize more the value of local journalists reporting on issues of concern to their communities, from the impact of national legislation on local businesses and schools to what it means that some fellow residents want to change zoning laws or build a mosque. It's important to get national and international news and perspectives, to be sure. But when journalists are fellow residents, you can get to know them (or about them), you can assess their credibility, you can hold them accountable.
It was while reading a mournful piece on the demise of yet another local newspaper that it hit me: newspapers, while the most visible source of news, are not the only source of news. Community-based radio stations offer international, national and local reporting. And they are free. Whether at home or commuting by car, all anyone needs is a way to hook into the airwaves. As I looked into it, I was struck by how robust and varied our community-supported stations are and how crucial it is to keep them going. So why not reach beyond my local station? Donations help stations hire reporters, fact-checkers and editors to generate news reports; they help stations pay the fees that allow them to broadcast things like Morning Edition or BBC News Hour; and they enable stations to host outreach programs that bring people together for informed discussions.
Stations also provide local reporting and opinion pieces. Now, I have been writing for more than 20 years, and I pride myself on in-depth reporting. For a series on military chaplains I embedded with the military downrange for three months in addition to spending time with chaplains, troops and military families Stateside. But I write for national publications, and unless the subject commands huge headlines (or enumerates more wonders of dark chocolate), it is nearly impossible to convince editors to revisit a subject time and again. This is not the case for journalists whose readers live in the same community. Their readers insist on more follow-up, more digging, more points of view. This means that local reporting is thorough, it reflects the variety of perspectives in the community, and it tracks issues over time. This is why local reports and opinion pieces are the first thing writers like me read when tackling a new subject. Scouring local journalists’ reports alerts us to the complexities of an issue and shines a light on assumptions we unconsciously harbor. In short, good local journalism doesn’t just benefit its own communities. By laying the foundation for good national journalism it benefits us all.
I still believe that local newspapers play a vital role, but saving or reviving a newspaper is beyond my power. What I can do -- what we can all do -- is ensure that local and national news keeps flowing, that people no matter where they live in the US have access to sound reporting and a variety of perspectives.
Hence the notion of mapping stations to make it easy to identify stations to support. Every modest (or not so modest) donation helps.
as for who I am, here is my archive of published work