Small Towns Hold the Key to Journalism’s Future

All politics is local. And sometimes, the most important journalism is too.

NPR correspondent Sarah McCammon recently published a thought-provoking article on the lessons of the 2016 election for American journalists. Her ultimate conclusion: serious reporters should consider getting out of the Beltway and going back home.

“If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from covering the 2016 presidential election, it’s that the best stories can and should come from unexpected places,” McCammon writes. In fact, she says, the future of better journalism lies in America’s small towns.

McCammon notes that the vast majority of national journalists and pundits missed the Donald Trump phenomenon but, for writers in ‘the sticks,’ the outcome of 2016 was far less surprising. Small towns across America are also brimming with important stories all their own. From local corruption to pension and water crises, these issues have a profound impact on the collective consciousness and can eventually shape how people view and vote in national elections. It’s something we here at City News know well.

“Just as journalists embed ourselves in wars or political campaigns, we should be ‘embedding’ ourselves in communities that revolve around agriculture, or insurance, or the military – rather than media or government,” writes McCammon. “National debates over issues like school choice, or pipelines, or water rights, or eminent domain tend to start small, in city councils and county zoning boards, before they ever make big headlines; to understand why they matter, you have to know the people they matter to.”

Preach it, girl. 


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