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Local News Matters

College Park, August 25, 2015 – The closure of the Gazette papers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in August sparked a discussion of the status of local news in Maryland and throughout the U.S. A panel of industry leaders came together Tuesday and discussed the future of local media and local reporting. The discussion showed how the industry is responding to changes in the market with innovation and ingenuity. And the crowd showed that local news really does matter.

“Local News Matters” panelists included Lucy Dalglish, Dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland; Brian Karem, Executive Editor, Sentinel Newspapers; Davis Kennedy, Publisher, Current Newspapers; Fern Shen, Publisher, Baltimore Brew; and Geordie Wilson, Publisher, Frederick News-Post. The event was moderated by Sheilah Kast, WYPR Maryland Morning, and hosted by Common Cause Maryland, the MDDC Press Association, and the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.

While the panelists each brought a different perspective and experience, there were some common themes that emerged:

* There is a demand for local news, as people across Maryland seek to stay informed of what is happening in their communities.
* Reporters have a critical role to play in not just delivering that news, but providing the oversight and accountability – particularly of local government – that residents deserve.
* Because of the demand, local reporting can drive membership. Many local news services are sustained by under-writing, membership programs, and local advertising.
* Journalists are using many platforms to cover communities - from online to broadcast to print. Journalistic ethics are the bedrock of community journalism.
* Social media is an important tool for driving traffic to articles and news websites, and creating a community around reporters and their stories. But the value of social media from a business perspective is still unclear.

Common Cause Maryland and the MDDC Press Association released a report in conjunction with the event, including detailed interviews with panelists. The report can be found here. Video footage provided courtesy of The Sentinel. .

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