The Merc’s Mike Cassidy is back with another column responding to readers about the paper’s coverage. This time the subject is local news coverage. He explains that the paper’s local coverage means stories that have a broad interest among all of its readers:
- If you want to be local, argues reader Michael Bower, how about more news “such as covering high school sports or events going on among high schools, junior highs and elementary schools?”
It sounds good on paper, but the paradox of local coverage is that the more intensely local the story, the smaller the universe of people who will be interested in it. You might find a story about a program at your kid’s school fascinating. But what about those whose kids go to another school in another district in another city?
More readers are better served when we report local stories with a more universal appeal. So, how does the Mercury News define “local news”?
“I would describe local news as something that affects local residents,” says Mercury News Editor David J. Butler. “It’s not necessarily or exclusively a geographic issue.”
Butler looks at an event, a trend, a legislative effort, an injustice, a disaster, a dispute, a milestone and asks a series of questions on behalf of Santa Clara County residents: “Is it new? Have they heard about it? Is it something they need to know?”