Every story can be localized

My first job out of college was working the nights and weekends shift at the Delaware County Daily Times in suburban Philadelphia. Working 3 to 11 p.m. or 4 to midnight was a sweet gig for a 22-year-old – believe me.

Of course, being the last reporter to arrive at work on weekdays meant picking up assignments that my colleagues hadn’t been able to get around to (or had managed to avoid). High on that list of reporting chores was “localizing” a wire story. I distinctly recall so many times getting to work in the late afternoon and being told to find a local angle. Sometimes the best I could do was turn in a few decent quotes to be added to the wire piece. Other days, I developed a strong sidebar that accompanied the main story. The ace of finding local connections for stories was Rose Quinn, who works the crime beat there 25 years after joining the Times staff.

I was reminded of those days while reading Pam Hogle’s short Poynter piece, “5 ways journalists can localize global issues, events.” In these times of dwindling newsroom headcounts, and more and more expected of those on deck, it’s understandable why readers don’t see those types of stories that put big issues into local context. It’s also inexcusable, especially when the information and sources are so readily available.

Consider Hogle’s second tip: “Highlight local connections to world events”: “One way to bring global events home and highlight the diversity of your community is to attach a local name and fact to an international news story. Find an immigrant or longtime local resident with ties to a country that is in the news.” Readers will be drawn to that story, and perhaps learn something about their neighbors.

Earlier this year, Poynter offered the live chat webinar, “How to take a global approach to any local beat.” Take some time to scroll through the chat, which includes this dead-on observation: “In a sense, the local-global view is the largest possible ‘useful’ context to every story whether it’s from the labor beat, business beat, environment beat, etc.”

Remember: Think local.

About Len La Barth

I am a longtime journalist still in love with this heartbreaking business.
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