Community journalism matters.
In fact we believe it is imperative to a growing, thriving community, providing a fount of information on things that really matter — or should matter — to residents.
It might be the ribbon cutting at a new business, or the student’s name on the honor roll; it could be the story about a fund-raising to help a cancer patient, or the quarterback who threw a game-winning touchdown or the teenager who was just crowned homecoming queen. It could be the stories about humanitarian efforts to help hurricane victims or where food, generators, supplies and clothes are being handed out. There’s even a chance that the arrest story you might find on Page 1 helped a business owner escape a possible scam or the breast cancer support pages convinced someone to get a much needed mammogram.
And as a journalism colleague recently pointed out in his own column, community journalists also cover the referendums that will determine whether a new school is built and whether our citizens’ taxes will rise. We publish birth announcements, obituaries, and the various things that, when wedged between those two bookends, make up the lives that make up our communities.
That’s the thing about community journalism — it’s all about community. We are there to help, not hurt; to inform not bash; to be a catalyst for change; to be a spotlight for the things going on around us, highlighting the good and pointing out the not-so-good.
The things you will find in the pages of this paper might not be the one-hit-wonder of the internet, it might not get a million views or become the latest story to go viral, but it will matter to someone, somewhere. It’s true of every story, of every photograph.
And it’s those things which make our jobs as community journalists so special, even when our profession is mocked by the leader of the free world, even when politicians convince some of you that we, as members of the press, are actually your enemy.
We are far from your enemy. In fact, we are your friends and among those you go to church with; we are among those who sit on civic boards like Rotary and Kiwanis, United Way and the Sampson Community College Foundation because we, like you, care. We are the individuals who work elbow to elbow with you on projects that run the gamut, all things that help make our community a better place for everyone to live, work and play.
The things we do matter because the people in our community matter.
As fellow journalist Matt Geiger so aptly put it in a column touting this week as National Newspaper Week, “the ribbon cutting is the culmination of a childhood dream. The donations at the food pantry will allow a family to gather around their table without worrying if there is enough to fill each plate. The honor roll goes on the fridge, of course, because it’s a reminder to a young student that she can flourish when she applies herself. The birth announcement marks the proudest, greatest moment of a mother and father’s life together. The face looking out from the obituary is one that a wife, and children, and grandchildren, will never kiss again. The new school being paid for with the referendum is where a young student might develop an interest in science, growing up and developing a treatment for cancer or Alzheimer’s, allowing millions of people to live a little longer, and have their faces kissed by those who love them a few more times.”
The Sampson Independent has been a community newspaper for almost 100 years, and during that time we’ve proudly covered our community’s happenings. We hope they have mattered. And we will continue covering them for a long time to come because we believe, despite social media, despite an intent to destroy the fabric of a press’ freedom, that community happenings are still important and you still want to read about them from community journalists who care as much as you do.