Perhaps one of the reasons why readers haven't expressed concern about the decline in local journalism is that they can't possibly know what's not being covered.
I do believe that the school board meets routinely, as do any number of local committees and commissions from the state of Wisconsin through the counties down to local units of government. Once in a while a story is big enough to attract a reporter's attention and break through the fog. But in my experience as a freelance writer, most good stories are ferreted out by inquisitive people asking questions and challenging the answers, and reporters with the time and inclination to pursue them over a period of weeks and months. Fewer reporters equals less time. Freelance writers can do only so much.
It might be interesting to publish a list of important stories not being covered. Give me two weeks, and I could make such a list. I would get on the telephone with members of local organizations, public and private, and start to inquire.
Additionally, Nichols's comment in Madison last night about four PR people for every reporter struck hard. Even government is tending in this direction.
Jan 29 2010 - 9:10am