By Monica Nieporte, OMNA President and Executive Director
I would like to encourage everyone to do local stories and editorials about the state’s new redistricting map.
Please don’t just run a statewide story written by our friends at the Associated Press.
The statewide perspective is fine but what readers care about is how the new map affects them.
Have the districts in your circulation area drastically changed? Do they include puzzling new areas or did they solve an old issue of a prior version of the map not making any sense for that district?
This has been such a long time coming that many readers don’t recall even voting on the gerrymandering issue and may not understand this is something voters asked for and how the process is supposed to work.
I would guess opinions of the proposed map will be split mostly along partisan lines by current officeholders so do your best to include opinions from some more neutral sources. Study the map yourself and if there is an obvious flaw, don’t be afraid to write about it. This is what the public comment period is for but unfortunately too many people don’t have enough facts in order to make informed comments.
As newsrooms have cut back staff and consolidated traditional government beats into other reporting positions, too many local papers rely on canned statewide news and commentary.
Aside from the local coverage of Covid, I cannot think of a more important story right now than to make sure you have invested some local reporting resources into this one. If we do not pay attention and scrutinize what our leaders are doing, our readers cannot be expected to hold them accountable. There have been far too many politicians taking advantage of our downsized editorial power and it’s time we remind them all that we are still here, we are still a vital source of information for their constituents and we take our government watchdog role seriously.