Derrick: Local journalism worth supporting

Gainesville, Florida, downtown skyline
Gainesville, Florida, downtown skyline

Today we are pleased to announce our first-ever Community Impact Report, which you can access here.

Why the report, you ask? Well, 2021 marked our first full year of operation, so we wanted to report on what we accomplished—for your sake and ours.

Journalists are notorious for being ruled by the tyranny of the urgent. There’s always another story to write. And we’d rather write it, every time, than take a step back and evaluate the totality of our work.

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But the big picture is important. A snapshot of where we are holds us accountable and also creates a baseline for future growth and development—which is good, because we have a whole lot more in the works.

We plan to release one of these reports at the end of each year and make them easily accessible in the footer of the site. Got questions or comments? We welcome your feedback: editor@mainstreetdailynews.com.

Our hope is that this report will also show you the value Mainstreet Daily News has brought to the community. Because we need your help. Good local journalism is worth both reading and supporting.

We hope more of you will join those who have already chipped in to financially back us. You can do that by using our secure portal to make an individual contribution or by reaching out (at the email address above) to discuss advertising opportunities for your business.

As we note in the report, The Washington Post recently reported that some 2,200 local newspapers across America have closed their doors since 2005. That means many counties—including several right here in North Central Florida—do not have reliable sources of news and information, telling good news stories and holding public institutions accountable.

You don’t have to be an expert to recognize this has grave implications for our society. If people are not getting news and information from a trusted local source, where are they going to get it? Increasingly, the answer is from partisan national outlets and shady websites with little credibility or accountability.

With a team of seasoned journalists, Mainstreet Daily News is standing in this gap. While other news outlets—even here in our area—have scaled down operations, we scaled up in 2021. We made two full-time hires and added a handful of new correspondents in both news and sports.

Each of those people made an impact, bringing you coverage ranging from live sports broadcasts to information on COVID-19 vaccines.

One of my favorite stories this year came from Suzette Cook. In April, she reported on a traffic accident in front of Alachua Learning Academy. The typical drive-by journalist would have quickly moved on to the next story, but Suzette circled back with a followup story that offered more details, photos and perspectives from County Commissioner Mary Alford and the school’s principal.

Then Suzette came back with a third story, this time after speaking with the county’s public works director, who said the lower speed limit signs in front of the school were the wrong color to be enforced. The reporting enabled the principal to begin the process of requesting an official school zone designation.

That’s journalism with impact—and we identify many more examples in our 2021 Community Impact Report. I hope you’ll take time to read it.

And as you do, please consider how you might be able to play a part in this work. Good local journalism is a community project. When you tell a friend about Mainstreet, we are grateful. When you like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our email newsletters, you push our work forward.

And when you contribute financially, you make what we do possible. If you can sacrifice a Starbucks drink a month, you can help us continue to thrive and grow in 2022.

Happy New Year!

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