From the Vault: Democracy Demands Committed Journalists - Open Media Boston Seeks Reporters
Since I'm out of town for part of this week, I thought it might be a good time to make a pitch for more volunteer reporters to consider working with us at Open Media Boston. Then I remembered that I had done a pretty solid job of that a couple of years back; so I decided to just run that editorial of February 16, 2010 this week - and quickly add that we're also always interested in running op-eds from Boston area progressives and progressive organizations for our Opinion section. So read on ... and hope to hear back from interested parties at their earliest convenience.
A community news publication like Open Media Boston is built on the hard work of our reporters. The more talented reporters we have, the more stories we can cover every week, and therefore the more we can accurately reflect the community (really several communities) that we serve. For almost two years now, this publication has gradually built up a dedicated crew of basically volunteer (unless you count pizza as renumeration) journalists that do their best to cover the stories that need covering week after week. But as the news industry continues to collapse, there are more and more stories out there that aren't being covered by anyone - most relating to the struggles of working families trying to get a fair deal in the midst of an economic crisis. And they desperately need coverage. More critically, stories that require deep, broad, long-term investigation over weeks and months are falling by the wayside - many of which deal with government at every level - making the growing news vacuum a threat to democracy itself. The idea of journalism as the "fourth estate" of government and watchdog of the public trust is predicated on a press that's able to pay professional journalists to fill that important role in our society. Many observers have written and spoken at length on this topic in recent months; so I won't repeat their points here. But suffice to say that the corporations that control most media in this country have long since decided to cut the news industry loose and focus on products (like "reality" TV) that ensure higher profits. This is why thousands of journalists and allied media professionals have been laid off over the last few years, and why new and still relatively small operations like this one are struggling to fill in news holes that are stretching out to become chasms before our eyes.
So the need for good jouranlism has never been greater. Here in Boston as everywhere else in America. And the irony is that American colleges - including several in our area - continue to pump out thousands of graduates from journalism programs every year. The talent is there. Experienced journalists still run journalism departments; so the training is there. The internet provides news outlets with a ready-made distribution mechanism that makes it cheaper to get information to large numbers of people than any time in history. But all this talent and opportunity is going to go to waste if some news media doesn't take a stand, declare its intent to fight through the economic crisis and the changes in the news industry, and keep going in the name of democracy and the public's right to the information they need to make informed decisions on matters that affect their daily lives.
Here at Open Media Boston we are doing our best to keep on keeping on, and produce the best journalism we can every week. Even though we started with no money down. Even though we have only a bit more money now. Even though we all have to work other jobs. We believe that if we keep going, and our support base in our community keeps growing, we'll find a way to build an economic model that works. And we'll help rebuild the news industry along more democratic and hopefully more publicly funded lines.
But we can't do that if more of the journalism students and recent graduates here in Boston don't step up and join us. And that goes for older experienced pros too.
We need more reporters. We also need more business and marketing expertise, more designers, more production assistance. [And more cash money!] But publications like Open Media Boston - representative of the new journalism being born right now in dozens of cities large and small - rise or fall on the strength of our reportage.
So if you're a reporter - or you think you have the kinds of skills a reporter should have - and you can produce work in at least one of the various media we work in, and you're interested in the kinds of beats we cover, and you share some basic agreement with this publication's progressive editorial line ... then we'd like to talk to you.
That is to say, I'd like to talk to you. Do you believe in democracy, human rights and social justice? Do you want to produce solid journalism that thousands of people will check out every week? Do you want to help keep the best traditions of the American news media alive and see them through this tough time we're in?
Then drop me a line. Email is best. You can reach me at info [at] openmediaboston [dot] org. You got reporting chops? You willing work a few hours a week on top of whatever else you need to do to make ends meet? You want to serve the people of Boston? You up for a challenge?
Well, if so, I hope to hear from you.
Jason Pramas is Editor/Publisher of Open Media Boston