How patience plays a role in local news coverage
Let me start off by saying this: I love my job at the Downey Patriot; I am not complaining.
One of the benefits of having a community paper is that you can rest assured that the individuals involved are dedicated to the distribution of information to a city that oftentimes they have very strong ties to (I myself am a “Downey Kid,” having been born, raised, and still residing here).
The downside, however, is community papers are often tiny in comparison to the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and even Orange County Register’s that people often associate with a newsroom.
There’s no extreme hustle and bustle at The Downey Patriot. You won’t find rows of loud whizzing, red-hot printing presses here. Most of our visitors are merely popping in to ask where the mammogram office is (it’s out the door and to the left, by the way).
The Downey Patriot is a small staff; walk into the office on any given day and you will find a handful of people in advertising / legals, our graphic designer, our publisher, and our two-man editorial team.
Let me repeat. Two. Man. Editorial team.
Now before you ask “what about the contributors,” yes, we do have a handful of great and talented individuals who do contribute to our weekly publication. Mark Fetter covers sports. Lorine Parks covers poetry and community events.
We do have the occasional intern, but they usually end up falling through. My Editor Eric Pierce is always telling me that “nine out of ten don’t work out,” although he now jokes that I was “number ten.”
But when it gets right down to the “regular ol’ news,” breaking news, crime, and human interest, much of that falls on the shoulders of Eric and I. Again, this isn’t a complaint; I can tell you for an absolute fact that we are both passionate about what we do.
But it admittedly gets a little frustrating when we get bombarded with comments and tweets about why we covered one thing over another. Why this crime wasn’t mentioned. Why we haven’t reached out to this sport team, but highlighted that one. Why your story hasn’t been published yet.
The Patriot is not a biased paper. It is not a lazy paper. We are not aloof.
The Patriot is however limited in its resources. Often times, what is published or not is determined by space and what is (or is not) available. Sometimes, we’re just forced to “pick our battles.”
This is where the “community” in “community newspaper” could really do wonders.
Want a team’s accomplishments to be featured? Send us a photo and a caption. A student doing great things? Shoot us an email. Fifteen police units with guns drawn and pointed at your neighbor’s house? Tweet us.
Often times our stories and tips come from you guys: the residents of Downey. We could not do our job without you; just cut us a little bit of slack sometimes.
We’re not intentionally ignoring you. We’re not shoving anything under the rug. Most times, we’re already backlogged with interviews, assignments, and content waiting to be published.
And lastly, in case I haven’t said it already…
Two. Man. Editorial team.
Part of being a journalist is having a thick skin. Maybe I still need to work on that.
In the meantime, the Downey Patriot will always be committed to providing the City of Downey with the news, public information, and stories that our community deserves. We’re not perfect, and we are most definitely small, but with the right support we are mighty. We are always open to hearing about what you, our readers, feel should fill your paper because in the end it is your paper.
Just remember, an email, tweet, or phone can go a long way with just a little bit of patience.