DNAinfo and Gothamist focused on the hyper-local, the weird and the underreported topics of our local community. I am primarily interested in issues I can directly effect and fight for or against, so local news has always been more valuable to me, in a way, than national news.
The more I read about local news, the more I was able to be involved. There was great, daily responsive reporting that was often picked up by larger news sources.
This is why the situation last year regarding the disregard of rape and sexual assault victims in our precinct was picked up all the way to the international newspaper, The Guardian.
This attention helped us to realize in our own community that this was, indeed, extremely inappropriate and harmful. Sometimes on the local level, we are more willing to dismiss or not notice bad behavior. When put under the lens of well-reported news, it becomes clear that there are patterns and problems worth tracking on a larger scale.
This is also what has been happening with the Neftaly Ramirez case. A DNAinfo reporter dug deeper and learned that there had been many local truck fatalities and injuries gone unexamined and prosecuted. Having this brought out into the light forced the NYPD to begin to address it.
The idea that a hyper-local news source was owned by a billionaire, Joe Ricketts, who did not live in New York City, was quirky at first and troublesome at best. Because local news is not profitable in the way other investments are, it was clearly just a hobby business.
The twisted reality about global capitalism is that one man's hobby becomes another 100 people's livelihood, which becomes a meaningful and impactful piece of local life in a place of little significance to the hobbyist.
Of course, those of you who are reading this column clearly value local news. And this debacle has convinced me beyond my former belief at the importance of papers like ours.
Our paper is locally owned and the investment is no one's foible. BQE Media is not “dabbling” in local news or trying to cash out on it. They define their success as their "relationship with" and "ownership by" the community.
I think we really ought to reconsider the major strengths of locally owned and operated reporting. This information is important, and should not be treated as folly.