Letters from the Editor – World-wide local newspapers lend perspective

Danny Fisher / Editor-in-Chief

Nine people were shot and killed at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon on Thursday, Oct. 1, and seven more were injured before the gunman committed suicide during the police response.

National news coverage tells the violent story over and over again.  This is what most people will read.  But the journalists at the News-Review Today, the Roseburg and Douglas County newspaper, have been telling the story as well.

It’s amazing that we have access to worldwide news as gathered by big-name national news companies, but in light of this recent tragedy it struck me that we also have access to local news from all over the world.

And the differences in coverage are significant.  While Fox, CNN and NBC are relaying information highlighted by personal accounts of the shooting, NR Today is releasing stories by local reporters that prominently feature accounts by victims and their families, and the reactions of a community that is fighting to pull together in the face of tragedy.

Reporting about tragedy is one of the scariest realities I can imagine facing as the editor of a small, community-oriented news publication.  When UAF faced it’s third gun-related death within two years during the spring semester of 2015, it quickly became clear how difficult it is to tell a story about someone’s death, and the injury that death does to the people who care about a lost individual.  As I watched the editor-in-chief at the time, a student like myself, decide what information to include and what language to use, I did not envy him the humbling responsibility.

Given the perspective I gained then and this week, I have realized the importance of small news publications being able to write about tragedy in their own communities.  For those people who dig a little deeper and find local coverage about losses such as that which Umpqua suffered, the context a local publication offers is invaluable.

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