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:
Reports of COVID-19, the new coronavirus, in several states (including my own county)
Super Tuesday, followed by a ripple of Democratic candidates dropping out of the race
Whatever happens between Wednesday afternoon as I write this and Thursday morning as I send this … oh look.
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.
I did not collect all the local Super Tuesday coverage, but here are quick samplings from: Vermont and VTDigger; Virginia and The Roanoke Times; North Carolina and The (Raleigh) News & Observer; Alabama and al.com; Maine and the Portland Press Herald; Massachusetts and WGBH; Oklahoma and Oklahoma Watch; Tennessee and The (Nashville) Tennessean; Arkansas and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Colorado and The Colorado Sun; Minnesota and MPR News; Texas and The Dallas Morning News; Utah and KUTV; and California and CalMatters.
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?
– 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.
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 photojournalism, updates 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:
I’m so excited for this new project from Poynter and Google News Initiative developing smart video strategies with local newsrooms. Please follow our editor and program manager of video strategy, Ahsante Bean, on Twitter, and see why she knows what she’s talking about over at her YouTube channel, where she has more than 20,000 subscribers.
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.