At a time when trust in media continues to erode and the business model for newspapers continues to be tossed and shaken, working in this industry can be deflating.
Last weekend in Albany, however, the New York Press Association delivered an uplifting reminder to those of us in community journalism that the work we do remains valuable, important and relevant to the people in neighborhoods we cover. The term “media” is often invoked as an over-arching description for journalism, although it most often refers specifically to cable news talking heads. But as we saw once again, a robust group of dedicated journalists remains across New York, hard at work in small newsrooms to deliver stories that might otherwise go untold.
At NYPA’s annual spring convention, we were honored to be among our colleagues, listen to advice from industry experts and bring home a few awards along the way.
Seeing the honors bestowed on some of the work done by our colleagues is inspirational for us.
Consider, for example, the investigative work of City & State in covering dubious testing of water tanks and the associated public health risks; an eight-month investigation by the Batavia Daily News, titled “Predator in Blue,” about a former Wyoming County Sheriff’s sergeant; the New York Law Journal’s examination of a sexual harassment policy in New York courts in response to the #MeToo movement; and the Oceanside Island Park Herald’s reporting on an Oceanside native’s mission to stop school shootings after his daughter was killed in Parkland, Fla.
A key takeaway from the convention was the need to rebuild trust among our readers, and that’s something we’ll strive to do. The media landscape continues to evolve and we adjust by providing news in different ways. In 2018, we launched a renewed effort into podcasting and produced more videos than at any time in our history. We’ll continue evolving with a redesigned website to better package our digital initiatives.
Another takeaway that seems to be reinforced every year is the strength of journalism on the East End in particular. The Suffolk Times earned Newspaper of the Year for the second consecutive year. Five of the top six papers were from eastern Long Island, including The Independent, Southampton Press and Sag Harbor Express. Digital-only organizations have been represented in recent years as well and RiverheadLocal publisher Denise Civiletti received a well-deserved award for investigative/in-depth reporting on the never-ending drama at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.
For the first time, our papers, along with Sag Harbor and Southampton, received a joint award for coverage of the opioid crisis through our East End News Project. As newsrooms shrink, it’s important for us to find innovative ways to work together. We hope to continue that in the future.
The uncertainty surrounding journalism these days won’t be going away, but we’ll continue to do our best to make our newspapers something our communities can be proud of.