Things are getting busier at The Press. We’ve just finished covering musical theater productions, junior/senior proms and Memorial Day services. Now, we’re preparing for high school graduations — celebrating the achievements of our area students, many of whom we’ve featured on our pages since their elementary days — and the ever-popular summer camps.
Our work here is to capture the happenings in our communities in print, via stories and photographs, and online, through our website. There’s always something going on, and for that, we’re thankful.
Community journalism — writing about and photographing events taking place across our region — is alive and well.
Many of our office staff and corps of freelancers have been with us from the beginning. They cover the good stuff — and the bad. They tell us about the selfless group that’s battling a hunger epidemic in our area as well as where we’re experiencing an uncomfortable level of crime.
We have eight weekly editions. That’s a lot of territory to cover.
We’ve run ads in the past few weeks in search of some extra help. We’re looking for freelancers to attend municipal meetings and to meet with area residents about community activities. We need writers and photographers — not necessarily those with academic degrees or previous professional experience. In fact, we’ve found that the most important quality in our dedicated freelancers is the love of their community.
According to a 2014 survey by the National Newspaper Association, about two-thirds of residents in small U.S. communities read their local newspaper. The results stated “community newspapers continue to be highly valuable to communities, as 94 percent of readers agreed the newspapers were informative; 80 percent said they and their families looked forward to reading the newspapers; 78 percent relied on the newspapers for local news and information and 72 percent said the newspapers entertained them.”
At a recent Emerging Mind of Community Journalism conference, sponsored by the University of Alabama, participants were asked to create a list characterizing community journalism. They said community journalism is “intimate, caring and personal; it reflects the community and tells its stories.”
Our freelancers take these characteristics to heart, and they do fantastic work. Many of them have won state journalism awards for their Press work. Paul Cmil, who covers several municipal meetings and pens features for three of our editions, recently earned a Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Keystone Press award for a business story he wrote on Catasauqua’s Phoenix Forging.
Awards aside, many freelancers say attending events on our behalf lifts their spirits because the organizers are always happy for the coverage. One freelancer has said that, after introducing herself as a Press writer/photographer, she often is made to feel like “the mayor.”
We’d be happy to talk personally with those interested in the possibility of freelancing — and being a part of this community journalism mission. Our contact information appears on Page A2.
Hope to hear from you.