It’s been a long week already. Here’s how local news has covered it.

March 5, 2020

This piece originally appeared in Local Edition, our newsletter following the digital transformation of local news. Want to be part of the conversation? You can subscribe here

In the words of someone on the internet, this week has been a year. We’ve had:

I planned to share another story with you today, but I’m saving that interview for a slower news cycle and holding on to the belief that we’ll have those again. Today, I want to highlight a little of the work we’ve seen from several of the stories above:

South Carolina’s primary and Super Tuesday

Catherine Rogers, digital director of The Greenville News & Independent Mail, messaged over the weekend to share how Gannett’s South Carolina newspapers were covering the story. She reports they had a team of more than a dozen reporters and photographers across the state. The team used a Google Form they made with Gannett’s Storytelling Studio to collect voter voices and share voter sentiment, which they also used across social media.

This is good work to remember when people who live on the coasts complain that we’re not hearing from the rest of the country. Maybe we’re just not listening.

Screenshot, greenvilleonline.com

I did not collect all the local Super Tuesday coverage, but here are quick samplings from: Vermont and VTDiggerVirginia and The Roanoke TimesNorth Carolina and The (Raleigh) News & ObserverAlabama and al.comMaine and the Portland Press HeraldMassachusetts and WGBHOklahoma and Oklahoma WatchTennessee and The (Nashville) TennesseanArkansas and the Arkansas Democrat-GazetteColorado and The Colorado SunMinnesota and MPR NewsTexas and The Dallas Morning NewsUtah and KUTV; and California and CalMatters.

Coronavirus

Local newsrooms have been covering the coronavirus through national and international news since the end of last year, but for many, it’s now also a local story. I’m working on a story highlighting that work now, but here are some examples:

– For the San Francisco Chronicle, this has been a local story from the start, said editor in chief Audrey Cooper. Among the ways the newsroom has told the story — their always-captivating tracker interactives.

– Coronavirus hit California on the same day Kobe Bryant died, Los Angeles Times reporter Colleen Shalby told me via email. Here’s their full coverage.

– My local newsroom, the Tampa Bay Times (which Poynter owns) kicked into gear this weekend as the first cases were reported after a rough week last week when newsroom staffers found out they were getting pay cuts. It’s only one person’s beat, said Ellen Clark, deputy editor of print, but everyone’s working on it. I especially appreciate all the ways this coverage answers my own questions, including what about Disney? What about spring training? And one I didn’t think to ask until I saw it —
what about the Spanish flu?

– And The Seattle Times is covering the region where some of the biggest stories are emerging after the first known death was reported this weekend.

– If you need resources to cover this story, check out Al Tompkins’ advice for journalists on responsible coverage, my advice for readers on finding reliable information, and a handy collection of AP style tips.

Screenshot, San Francisco Chronicle

Nashville tornado

Finally, most other weeks, the deaths of 18 with 13 still missing after a tornado in Tennessee would be the biggest news. In Nashville, local news has kept that story front and center with gripping photojournalismupdates on how to help and a tick-tock look inside the devastation from The Tennessean. There’s also thorough coverage from public radio station WPLN, and in addition to nonstop coverage from local TV stations, WEHT also covered when the tornado moved through its own parking lot.

Here’s The Tennessean’s front page, via Newseum:

While you’re here and in non-breaking-news-news:

  • Check out this piece from Better News on how to boost donations through your homepage.

  • Congrats to Wendi C. Thomas, founder of MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit online newsroom in Mississippi. Thomas’ work earned her the 2020 Selden Ring from the USC Annenberg School of Journalism and a $50,000 prize.

  • Also congrats to Stacy-Marie Ishmael and Millie Tran, the next leaders of The Texas Tribune.

  • I usually try to share Poynter’s huge menu of in-person and online training here, but this week, I’ll share a reminder that we’re a nonprofit organization and you can support us through a donation here. Thank you.

That’s it for me! See you next year. I mean week.

Kristen Hare covers the transformation of local news for Poynter.org. She can be reached at khare@poynter.org or on Twitter at @kristenhare