Community Journalism: Relentlessly Local

Community Journalism: Relentlessly Local

Community Journalism: Relentlessly Local

Community Journalism: Relentlessly Local


No matter how ambitious they may be, most novice journalists don't get their start at the New York Times. They get their first jobs at smaller local community newspapers that require a different style of reporting than the detached, impersonal approach expected of major international publications. As the primary textbook and sourcebook for the teaching and practice of local journalism and newspaper publishing in the United States, Community Journalism addresses the issues a small-town newspaper writer or publisher is likely to face.

Jock Lauterer covers topics ranging from why community journalism is important and distinctive; to hints for reporting and writing with a "community spin"; to design, production, photojournalism, and staff management. This third edition introduces new chapters on adjusting to changing demographics in the community and "best practices" for community papers. Updated with fresh examples throughout and considering the newest technologies in editing and photography, this edition of Community Journalism provides the very latest of what every person working at a small newspaper needs to know.


By Gloria B. Freeland

Community newspapers are thriving. of the 9,321 newspapers in the United States, about 97 percent are considered “small” or community papers. These include weeklies, dailies, ethnic newspapers, papers devoted to religion coverage, gay and lesbian papers, and papers targeted to parents, senior citizens, military personnel, and other special-interest groups.

Jock Lauterer is there to cheer all of them on. This book, now in its third edition, has been used nationwide by professors in their journalism classes and by journalists wanting to brush up on their Journalism 101 skills.

Lauterer, an award-winning former North Carolina community newspaper editor and publisher, teaches community journalism every semester at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also directs the Carolina Community Media Project.

His book includes insightful, down-to-earth tips on covering one’s community inside and out. Lauterer doesn’t just talk about community journalism. He gives real-life examples from his own and others’ experiences in the nitty-gritty, day-to-day world of community journalists. Many of those experiences are described in his “From the Trenches” segments.

In “Your Town; Your Turn” at the end of various chapters, Lauterer lists ideas for further discussion. in the chapter on news (Chapter 7), he suggests the following: “Think about your paper, or a target paper. Find an example of how the community journalism response to a local news event was different from that of the nearby big-city daily and area tv.” in the chapter on interviewing and writing (Chapter 10), he gives the following idea: “Pick a person at random right now.… Study her eyes, hands, mouth, hair, walk, clothes, how she ‘looks out of her face.’ Take notes and write about it.”

Lauterer’s writing style is personal, warm and humorous.

In his discussion about features (Chapter 8), for example, he writes, “[Features] are the garlic to the sauce, the flower on the table, clean sheets on the bed, an unexpected kiss, a phone call from a dear old friend. … We could probably get along without these things, but their surprising presence uplifts and enriches us.”

Students like Lauterer’s informal style of writing.

“Lauterer’s book is easily the best textbook I’ve ever read. It was interesting, informative, and I actually looked forward to reading it,” a student in my Community Media class at Kansas State University said.

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