Examining the importance of local journalism

Why the community should appreciate local media

Chloe Forbes, Editor in Chief

Right when you open Ryan Holiday’s best-selling book “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator,” you’re met with the updated preface where Holiday addresses the success of his book. It’s not what you might expect, but it’s what you respect.
After writing a book about the downfall of journalism, reduced to pageviews and yellow press headlines for website traffic, he is often asked what it’s like to have rightfully predicted events like the increased polarization of America and the election of former president Donald Trump.
Each time, he simply replies with a quote from cultural critic George W.S. Trow: “There’s nothing fun about being right if what you’re right about is the triumph, or the temporary triumph, of the inevitably bad.”
I’ve spent my last year at Gannon striving to make The Gannon Knight a legitimate publication with journalistic values that holds meaning to the Gannon community.
Still, I find myself being put down and compared to other campus entities like WERG. I’ve been told by my professors that the newspaper is dead, I’m not making it accessible enough, it’s not real journalism, it’s just something nice for students to put on a resume. My paid internship at a local newspaper my sophomore year was not praised the way my friend’s unpaid public relations internship was.
Students often walk into the newsroom during production to use the computers because they mistake it for a computer lab.
If this pandemic and even the election cycle have taught us anything, I would hope it would be that we rely on local journalism more than ever, as we should. National outlets are businesses, just like any other business. They do what they need to in order to get your click, and past that click making them money, it doesn’t always matter if the content is quality.
Local journalism, however, still has some control. Obviously, there are publications owned by larger companies like Gannett, but publications like the Erie Reader are independently owned and produce phenomenal, insightful pieces about the community. Thankfully, The Gannon Knight has a great amount of freedom in what we are allowed to publish as well. Still, we are taken for granted.
I have tirelessly worked hours and hours in my office reaching out to try to get people to read The Knight. If someone decides to give me the time of day, I’m always met with the same fake, light laughter telling me to send them the link and they’ll get to it if they have time.
Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to speak with Daniella Gibbs Léger, the executive vice president for Communications and Strategy at American Progress and former special assistant to President Obama. She expressed how she believes to make any progress politically or mend the polarization national media causes, we need to focus on local news.
My heart swelled for about five seconds before I heard my classmates claim that they are fervently passionate about local news, despite their lack of support for the university newspaper.
I have been bashed by my fellow students and told the newspaper is a waste of time and space, so hearing these words uttered by my classmates left me in a state of disarray.
I have asked my classmates, professors and the Gannon community at large to read local, and I hope they start to open their eyes to actually doing that and reaping the benefits. I’m not going to send the link to my article to you for the third time this week, but I do hope you seek it out for your own personal growth and education.
And as for my staff members, I’m pleading you to give them the recognition they deserve after watching them spend hours of pouring their hearts into their work and putting articles together.



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