Remembering the Good Old Days of the Media

Forget sleeping pills. I can put someone into dreamland just by talking about the good old days in the newsroom.

Before I can tell how I broke into radio news because no one else wanted the job, eyelids begin to flutter and then shut faster than those of a cat sitting in the sun.
So I will keep it simple. There was a time when every city, town and hamlet had a local radio, newspaper or television station that had reporters attending school board meeting, city council sessions and water and sewer advisory board gatherings.

Many of these reporters moved up to larger markets and brought their lessons from the trenches with them. They sometimes became editors or news directors, sharing their knowledge and sense of fairness.
It was tough work with low pay and, except for a few, little chance of making it to the big city markets. But there was a love of the getting the news, a calling like those in education and health care.
The internet, social media and the 24-hour news cycle changed everything. Newspaper companies thought they were invincible so came too late to the online news format. Marketing and sales managers were publishers so the news content shrunk as ads went elsewhere. Reporters lost their jobs with nowhere to go.
But maybe there is a change coming.

Report for America, a nonprofit organization modeled after AmeriCorps has a goal of placing 1,000 journalists in understaffed newsrooms by 2022. According to an article by Nellie Bowles in the New York Times, three reporters were placed in Appalachia. There are over 700 applicants that could be placed across the country by this summer. Bowles quoted reporter Molly Born: “It’s important to have reporters based in parts of America where some people feel misunderstood.” She covers the southern coal fields for the West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Local reporting makes a difference and just maybe some of those news gathers working today will have stories of their own to tell one day.

To learn more visit ReportForAmerica.org.

About Ray Brasted

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