The Post’s March 27 Style article “Is local reporting in a death spiral?” bemoaned the decline in local reporting, especially about “city hall or the local high school team.” Readers looking for solid “hyperlocal” reporting should look no further than the newspapers put out by local high schools. In Montgomery County, where I have taught journalism for 14 years, many of the 26 high schools offer reporting to rival any small-town paper.
To name a few of the best, the Churchill Observer, the Blake Beat, the Blair Silver Chips, the Rockville Rampage and the Sherwood Warrior, as well as my own Wootton Common Sense, all provide solid game coverage of high school sports, and not just the “major” sports that are covered by our local Gazettes. Our student journalists cover what’s going on in their classrooms, clubs, social lives and minds. They debate relevant topics on the opinion pages, from legalizing marijuana to lowering the voting age. Our writers follow county schools Superintendent Joshua Starr and question his and the county’s policies and procedures. They provide localized coverage of national and world news stories, demonstrating their relevance to our area’s teenagers. Want to know how the closing of I-270 to catch bank robbers affected people or how the missing Malaysian airplane matters to us? Again and again, high school papers provide these answers.
Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said, “If professionals can’t bring us ample news coverage of conditions like overcrowded classrooms and ineffective curriculum, who can? Fortunately, there is an army of ‘embedded journalists’ at the ready.”
There is no need to mourn the death of local reporting. It lives on, vibrantly. If you want to know what teenagers think and desire and know, let them tell you in their own hyperlocal publications.
Evva Starr, Potomac
The writer is newspaper and yearbook adviser at Thomas S. Wootton High School.