Last week I received a question from a reader that I would imagine others have as well: Will Mainstreet have an editorial page?
The answer is no. We believe today’s media landscape is flooded with opinion. Some of it is clearly labeled, and some of it parades as reporting, but regardless, we do not see a need for more of it.
What is lacking is good reporting, especially on the local level. In the last year, Alachua, Levy and Gilchrist counties have seen five newspapers fold. This is part of a well-documented, nationwide trend with widespread implications for our society.
At Mainstreet, we want to spend our time and resources filling those gaps with journalism, not prognosticating. So if you’re looking for someone to tell you what to think about GRU rates, zoning, or political candidates, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
As long-time Mainstreet readers know, we do run some columns here and there, but they are on topics such as sports, fishing and faith—or ones like this in which I am explaining our journalism. We are not going to try to tell you how to vote.
With that said, I’d like to provide some background on the journalists who are producing the news you will read in this newspaper. C.J. Gish, Camille Broadway, Mike Ridaught and Ronnie Lovler each have at least 25 years of journalism experience with outlets ranging from local newspapers, radio and television to CNN and CBS abroad. Ronnie and reporter Seth Johnson are both bilingual, and Camille, Mike and Ronnie all teach journalism at the university level.
This month marks the completion of 20 years in journalism for me, split between local and national journalism, print and radio.
This experience—totaling more than 150 years—means we bring an understanding and depth to our reporting that sets us apart in the local media market.
Outside of opinion, national news is another thing you will rarely find in this newspaper. We know that what is happening in Washington, D.C., or Ukraine, for example, is important, but we also know you don’t pick up the local paper to find those stories. Cable television, podcasts and national outlets like NPR and The New York Times inundate us with a glut of national coverage. The gaps are on the local level.
In 2018, Duke University researchers released the results of a local journalism study that found just 17% of news stories were actually local—which they defined as being “about or having taken place within the municipality.”
I recently audited a month of our coverage and found 88% of the stories were either about or took place within our coverage area. The remaining stories were national but generally had a direct impact on our audience (such as the national COVID-19 policy).
We believe what people want is more information about what is going on in their communities, so we aim to deliver it.