Thursday, September 08, 2005

Local papers, national stories

So, I haven't really given this blogging stuff much thought. Before today, I was thinking that I would mainly post column-length entries one or two times a week, depending on my time and available subject matter. However, I started to question that approach today, probably because there wasn't anything in today's papers worthy of a lengthy exposition. I guess what I'm saying (at this point, only to myself) is let's just see what happens. For a couple of months, at least, posting may be highly irregular. On to the news, but first, some background...

Howard County's news cycle is basically on a weekly basis. The Baltimore Sun runs local stories on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, with the majority of the juicy stuff saved for the weekend. The Washington Post runs local stories on Thursday, the same day our local weeklies (the Columbia Flier, Howard County Times, and Laurel Leader--all published by the same company, Patuxent Publishing) come out. While I'm not enamored with any of the papers, I think Patuxent does the best job covering the community, the Sun has the most interesting stories, and the Post has the best writers. This week, however, Patuxent let me down.

Local papers all do it, but Patuxent has elevated it to an art form. "It," of course, is giving extensive coverage to national issues that, however poignant or tragic, have no real relevance to our county. This week, Patuxent pulled out all the stops, going so far as to send a reporter to Mississippi. See more stories here, here, here, here, here, and here. Yes, Katrina has had an impact on our lives in Howard County, but couldn't these impacts and our responses have been summed up in a single story? Patuxent tries to connect us to the tragedy, but in the process only cheapens it, as though the significance of the situation rests on how it affects our community. To be sure, county residents are doing what they can to help, but so are hundreds of millions of others throughout the world.

With as much time, energy, and emotion as I've devoted to watching the storm and its aftermath, I still don't want to write about it, and when I open my local paper, I don't really want to read about it.

I like local papers because they write about local issues, like dangerous intersections and a TV show being filmed in our community. And really, who doesn't love the crime log (unless you or your property is in it)? Without question, there is a tremendous need for local papers. They are vital to the strength of our community, covering stories other papers don't and providing an unparrelled forum for discussions of local issues. It's all the better when papers play to these strengths, instead of trying to be something they're not.

1 comment:

Sonya said...

You are making good job!
Keep up the super articles!