I’m hugely impressed by this story about how Robin Kemp, the lone journalist who reported on the entire 21-hour-long absentee vote count in her county in Georgia last week, did it not as part of her job for a local outlet or wire service, but for her own fledgling news site that she started after getting laid off two years ago. We always get a lot of cute stories on the enterprising Hildes and Gabe Fleishers of the world, so it’s important I think to also continuously highlight full-time local reporters who are doing it themselves, too.
And while it’s always worth celebrating these kinds of feats of hyperlocal journalism, at the same time, stories about reporters like Kemp also force us to consider how we as an industry can support this kind of work. Kemp’s story doesn’t end with any kind of Cinderella-esque and then the Associated Press hired her, full-time with benefits, and they all lived happily ever after! ending after all, and even so, we shouldn’t only throw money at local journalism on the occasion that it happens to be mega-relevant to the rest of us, obviously.
What’s interesting to me is seeing if the Substackissance/crowdfunding trend in media is a model that can work for outlets and reporters like Kemp; theoretically taking out the problems of scale that you normally need to build your own subscription service or get advertising dollars should make this kind of grassroots journalism more sustainable (I’m thinking student journalism would benefit from this, too, if we can figure it out), but overall I think we have yet to see how it can consistently work for **and here I clamber back on one of my favorite soapboxes** folks without an existing NY-centric platform and audience.
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