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Local news is vital
Guest Opinion 5-22-24
Rivera pix

Local news has its finger on the pulse of our communities. When city council acts (or acts up), when disaster strikes, when corruption or scandal needs to be scrutinized, local news steps up. From our kids’ sporting events to small town heroes, road construction detours to storm preparedness, they cover stories of interest and importance to our daily lives – stories that large media overlooks.

Amidst the climate crisis, these stories could save our lives.

Heat waves. Super-storms. Forest fires. Floods. Reporting on climate events, disasters, and preparedness is essential, obviously. But local news has a bigger role to play in helping us apply climate solutions that make sense to the unique places that we live.

In the beautiful valley where I live, nestled on the border of Canada in Northern Maine, agriculture, forestry, and snowmobiling are the three big industries. My community needs to see how climate change is already impacting us. It’s here. It’s hurting us. It’s changing everything in this valley’s way of life. We can either suffer and collapse from it, or we can understand what’s happening and learn how to adapt. Local news can help us do it.

A local newspaper has an intimate understanding of what our neighbors and local businesses need to know about the problems and the possibilities. For example, our local newspaper could do us a great service by translating the bewildering maze of subsidies, grant programs, relief funds, and rebates that already exist into plain speak. They could announce when the grant cycles open and close. They could help homeowners and local businesses know what funding and options are available to us. We need that help.

A local newspaper can draw on its knowledge of how we live to help us with the steep learning curve that we face. Fox, MSN, and NPR can’t be that specific – but what Florida needs to know is different from what Northern Maine needs to learn. With rising temperatures in the summer, our traditionally temperate valley in Maine faces increased cases of heat strokes. No one has air conditioning. We’ve never needed it before. But with heat hovering at 90-100° F for weeks now, our elders and families need to learn the signs of heat stroke … and the ways that we can prepare for this.

A local newspaper can report on climate solutions that make sense for the unique ecologies and social fabrics that exist in our areas.

What a local newspaper covers on climate is a matter of survival for us all. We need the intimate knowledge that they have of the places that we live. Your local community is special and distinct from my local community. Your local news is perfectly poised to deliver the stories, strategies, and solutions you need. Local news is an endangered species, threatened by corporate buyouts and mega-mergers. If we lose our local news, we lose the nuances, specificity, and responsiveness that only a local news outlet can deliver. And amidst the climate crisis, this kind of information is of vital importance to our daily lives … and to our future.


Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, has written numerous books, including The Dandelion Insurrection and the award-winning Ari Ara Series. She is the editor of Nonviolence News and the Program Coordinator for Campaign Nonviolence and a nationwide trainer in strategy for nonviolent campaigns. Opinion expressed are those of the author.