by Ashley Pinder
As media giant AOL announces it now seeks short, tweetable and colorful search engine optimized stories from freelancers not necessarily written from original content, it’s important to remember that old-school newspaper reporting still matters.
Stories of community service might not make headlines or drive ad click-throughs, but they do make a difference.
Several weeks ago the Junior League of Greater Orlando provided an Orlando Sentinel reporter armed with a notebook and a pencil, a chance at an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at a little-known program at the Orange County Regional Juvenile Detention Center aimed at providing mentoring to detained young girls.
It required several levels of approvals by the state department to grant access to a member of the media to enter the JDC for a Girls Advocacy Project “GAP” session due to security restrictions, but it was well worth it. By attending the moving session in-person, interviewing League volunteers and observing the evening’s events, that reporter was able to write an original story that is now making a difference.
The story sheds light on an ongoing program managed by Junior League volunteers that may not be glamorous, but is a lifeline to young girls in custody, who don’t normally have a chance to interact with strong women who can show them right from wrong.
The same day the story was published in the Sentinel; concerned members of the community contacted the League, asking how they could support GAP and get involved as the program’s state funding is in jeopardy.
By shedding light on issues that need community support and sparking community action it should be very clear – newspaper reporting still matters.