Local journalism matters: Q&A with community members on importance of local journalism


Photo credit: Kristin Taylor

Pens given to Archer publications staff. Tuesday of the 2021 Scholastic Journalism Week highlights the significance of local journalism. The Oracle takes a closer look by asking community members to reflect on the impact of local journalism on the Archer campus.

By Thea Leimone and Greta Irvine

The New York Times reports on the weather crisis in Texas. The Washington Post updates the public on vaccine distribution. The list of stories requiring substantial coverage goes on as major events unfold each day. 

But who covers the lesser-know stories belonging to a multitude of different communities? Who highlights smaller events or achievements of individuals? Such task falls upon local journalism, where journalists report on localized stories that impact and inform smaller communities. Highlighting this task is the 2021 Scholastic Journalism Week hosted by The US Journalism Education Association (JEA). Designating each day of the week to a given topic, this Tuesday’s theme, “Local Journalism Matters,” spotlights the importance of local journalism in communities and school campuses.

The Oracle reached out to faculty and students to hear their perspectives on the broad impact of local journalism as well as its impact on the Archer community. Senior Courtney Wernick, English teacher Jennifer Dohr and history teacher Bethany Neubauer shared their thoughts via email.

What is one (or two) Oracle articles that had a big impact on you and why?

Courtney Wernick [CW]: My sister wrote a commentary her senior year, “Why I walked out of our ‘walkout'”, on the walkout that occurred [at Archer] after the Parkland school shooting. Unfortunately, I was sick the day of the walkout and only could hear about the events that happened, and so this article made me feel completely connected and like I was part of the eventful day. I also think that this sparked a very important conversation and multiple discussions at Archer, which is crucial for any development of ideas or perspectives. Not only was the subject matter important, but it was succinct, passionate and overall incredibly written.

Jennifer Dohr [JD]: I especially appreciated Charlotte Tragos’s and Dani Fenster’s story about their experience volunteering for the Biden/Harris ticket in Las Vegas. Understanding our students’ experiences firsthand offers such insights into their interests and helps us form bonds that extend into the classroom and beyond. And Greta Irvine’s article highlighting social media posts that undermine Covid-19 restrictions is so important and timely. Irvine’s article transcends the walls of Archer in helping young people everywhere understand the perils of their behaviors.

Bethany Neubauer [BN]: One of the Oracle stories that really impacted me was Celeste Ramirez’s column on the pronunciation of her name. Her piece was personal, reflective and honest, in addition to being well-researched, and it was also a powerful reminder of how important it is for each member of a community to be welcomed and recognized, in both big and (seemingly) small ways.

Why do you think it’s important to highlight our community’s stories?

CW: Highlighting our community’s stories is crucial in order for connection, especially during the current times. Stories about our community members are some of the only ways that I can hear about other Archer students and teachers when there is no way to simply run into them in the hallways at school. Also, the more stories the Oracle writes about, the more perspectives other students can delve into and learn about, creating a more understanding, educated community.

JD: Especially during a pandemic, while we’re all feeling lonely, the Oracle’s stories help us to see one another.

BN: One reason it’s important is that it gives us all insight into the thoughts and experiences of the people around us, who are infinitely more complex than we may realize. Archer has a strong sense of community, and many of the Oracle’s stories bolster those connections by allowing us glimpses into the lives of others.

Have you been featured in the Oracle? If so, how do you feel about your story or perspective being shared?

CW: I had a column my sophomore year and truly loved the opportunity to share my perspective on my topic, picky eating. Getting to discuss stories that have affected me in such a lighthearted way is one of the highlights of my Archer experience.

JD: I’ve always been honored to be quoted in the Oracle, and I would welcome the opportunity to share more of my story.

BN: Yes, I have, and I’ve been really impressed with the accurate, thorough and thoughtful reporting by Oracle staffers.

Overall, why do you think local journalism such as the Oracle is important?

CW: Local journalism connects us with other Archer students, teachers, and administrators, and lets others see the beauty that is Archer’s student body and community.

JD: Caring deeply about the lives of our friends, our colleagues and our neighbors is often where we can make the most immediate impact. Sometimes we overlook what’s happening in our own backyards.

BN: Local, objective journalism is under threat in many places in the US, since local papers have a hard time surviving in the current media landscape, leaving people uninformed about events in their own communities. The Oracle has adapted to changing technologies and has found new ways to engage readers while keeping us connected and informed.