Letter from the editor: Local journalism clears the smoke


Shelby Tankersley, Editor-in-Chief

Hey readers,

The Post’s editors and I have this group chat. When we’re not communicating entirely through GIFs, we use it to let each other know if something newsworthy is going on and to decide if we should write a story or not.

So, I was sitting in my apartment last Monday listening to Taylor Swift’s new album when one of our editors, Cheyanne, told us all to check the news. An area by the Great Lakes Crossing outlet mall had burst into flames, and we were all confused as to what could have happened. I was sitting there hoping that nobody, especially my roommate that was out, was hurt.

I’m a journalist, I wanted some answers. I turned on the TV, but there was no coverage. So I checked Facebook.

One of WXYZ Channel 7’s reporters was parked outside of Great Lakes with Facebook Live coverage pointed directly at the flames. He had no idea what had happened either, but he kept repeating the things he did know so everybody watching could have some peace of mind. He told me and everybody else watching what police were doing to contain the flames and prevent injury.

I sat on my couch watching with him and became significantly less worried.

In the decline of newspapers, local news outlets have been hurt the most. These hard working reporters have had to trim their staffs and do more work because news simply isn’t profitable anymore. Advertising dollars are much more friendly to newsrooms that bring in a large audience, which usually is not the case for local news outlets.

It’s not that people don’t care about local news. The Washington Post actually found that local happenings are what entice most people to turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper. But I’m from a small town, and the interest of a few hundred people just isn’t enough to draw in advertisers. That is why massive news outlets like the New York Times or even The Detroit Free press have not struggled as much as smaller newspapers have.

The big problem with that is that The New York times isn’t going to tell people when a construction site in southeastern Michigan bursts into flames. Only places like The Oakland Press, Channel 7 and The Post are going to care when a local emergency happens.

Local journalism matters weather it’s on air or in print. What has kept The Post afloat for all this time is our dedication to the Oakland University-based news that readers cannot get anywhere else. It’s the same case with Oakland County’s news outlets.

Journalists get a lot of  grief nowadays, but the reality is that we all care about the communities we report on.

I shared Channel 7’s live feed on Facebook on Monday night. As a journalist, it was cool to see so many others do the same. It was even better to see the encouragement and answers The Post’s small article gave people that night. After all, that’s what we do this for.

So, I encourage you all to support your local and hometown news outlets. Most of us are just out there trying to do the right thing for the communities we serve. When you think that the mall has burst into flames, those reporters will be on the front lines trying to get you some answers.


Shelby Tankersley