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How local news covers tragedy

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How local news covers a tragedy

This past Monday was Patriot’s Day and also the day of the Boston Marathon. Arguably one of the toughest marathons in the country. For those who are not from Boston, it may seem like just another holiday you don’t get an excuse to take off work, but for locals it is a day to celebrate the runners racing, relax and watch the Red Sox play at Fenway and more importantly the day is spent rejoicing as a community.

When the bombs went off on April 15, 2013 during the 117th Boston Marathon, I was standing one and half blocks north of the first explosion. I will always remember that moment in time. The moment I watched my city, my hometown become center of the national and world news cycle.

I look back, now five years later, and see that was the true instance I appreciated local reporting. Sure, I read the Boston Globe every day, but I don’t think I recognized the significance of having a true, local community paper. After the Boston Marathon bombing, reporters from all over the country flocked to Boston. Each news outlet was grasping at any new update, information or lead to report the story first.

I watched with exasperation as large news organizations repeatedly reported information wrong. But while the CNN’s and New York Times of the world insensitively covered a local tragedy, it was the local newspapers and television stations that shined their best.

It’s the reporters who know their city, that take the time to get the story factually correct and also carry the spirit and heart of the city into their writing. The reporting that came after the Boston Marathon bombings from the various local news outlets in Boston was nothing short of incredible. It is no surprise than that in 2014 the Boston Globe won a Pulitzer Prize for its breaking news coverage. 

And just this week, the Press Democrat won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for the newspapers coverage of the North Bay fires.

Steve Falk, publisher of the Press Democrat, said on the win, “The real test of newspaper is in a disaster and our journalists rose to the occasion when our community needed them most.”

The importance of having a local newspaper is undeniable, but when tragedy falls on a small community their importance shines even greater.

Forever Boston Strong, and most importantly forever community strong. 

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