|Samantha Liss is a local editor for Patch. She|
graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism
in 2010 with a degree in convergence journalism.
When I stepped into my role as a Patch local editor, I wasn’t overly enthused about living in the suburbs. Looking back a year later, it’s the best decision I could have made.
If you want to cover a community well, you must be physically present. Good reporting means more than dropping in town to catch the weekly meetings, or important events. It’s about being a part of that local community.
Since I live in the town I cover, if something is amiss, chances are, I’ll know first. If the power goes out in town, so does mine. If the fire truck sirens start wailing, I’ll know to get moving. Some of you may have an office to report to but I encourage you to leave that office and put shoe leather to the pavement. The more visible you are in your community the better.
Good reporting means more than just showing up for the work day. Invest in the community. Spend time at local coffee shops, go to the dog park, grab a drink at the local bar. Try to be an active member of the community by engaging with other residents.
Soon enough, residents will start to recognize you as one of their own and hopefully someone they can trust. Making these connections and making yourself available to residents is priceless. If I decided to live 30 minutes away, never interacting in my community outside of a normal work day, I wonder what I would miss.
If you want to be a good reporter you must start engaging with the community you cover, and that doesn’t mean via the Web. Get out on the streets and start observing -- you know, out from behind a computer screen, the good old fashioned way.
BJ ‘10 Convergence
Local editor, Patch
Check out the rest of the Letters Home series
Editor's note: If you're a Mizzou journalism alum who would like to contribute to the Letters Home series, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your letter, your name, your sequence and graduation year, your current job and contact information.