Thankful for Dedicated Local Reporters

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Photo from .joericketts.com

On Nov. 2, Joe Ricketts, CEO of DNAinfo and Gothamist, decided to shut down one of Washington, D.C.’s many local media outlets, DCist. Without fanfare or advanced notice, the news spread on Twitter that a city staple of in-depth reporting had published its last online article.

If you didn’t know of or follow DCist, its writers and editors focused on local issues surrounding transportation, crime, local events, weather and other topics that impact residents’ daily lives. I spoke with DCist’s editor in chief recently to discuss the Albert Pike statue.

Many of my colleagues on the District Council, as well as Mayor Bowser, sent messages of appreciation for what DCist had done to report the news on every level about every facet of D.C.

Similarly, hyperlocal news publications like The Georgetowner and Current Newspapers report on the issues I hear about from constituents on a daily basis, such as parking, leaf collection, biking and road conditions. Current Newspapers published a couple stories about blighted foreign missions that have been a thorn in residents’ side for years. In response, national outlets such as the Associated Press and CQ Roll Call have followed the Current’s lead and published stories on the subject.

Such publications really understand the substance of the issues residents care and need to be kept informed about .

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission voted to remove rules that put certain restrictions on the number and types of outlets a media company could own in a single market. Rolling back these rules could threaten the future of local news publications. Just as we’ve seen with DCist, we could see other local news outlets downsized or even shuttered.

From my time as a commissioner representing ANC 2B in Dupont Circle to my current position as Ward 2 Council member, I turned — and still turn — to local media when I need to know what’s happening in my community and ward.

We can get lost in the daily whirlwind of network news coverage of national and global affairs, which rarely focus on our community in Georgetown. It’s vital as consumers of news that we read and invest in local media.

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the hard work of the dedicated local reporters, spread across print, radio, television and online sources, who shine a light on what’s happening in D.C.

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