Being informed about national issues is important, but knowing what is going on in your backyard is crucial to being a productive, valuable citizen.
NFL playoff seedings? Check. Fiscal cliff update? Check. Golden Globe nominees? Check.
To be sure, the national and global headlines are in front of you in a heartbeat. Those nuggets of news are interesting, informative and, sometimes, helpful. But are you getting the whole story? Do you find yourself wanting news that is, literally, a little closer to home?
If so, that’s a good thing. Being informed about your country and the planet is important, but knowing what is going on in your backyard is crucial to being a productive, valuable member of your community. Indeed, when it comes to being a better citizen, reading the local news is where it’s at.
Think of what you could be missing if you avoid reading the local newspaper.
- Your community’s city council just voted to allow a new, “questionable” business to set up shop near your child’s school.
- The local school board decided to lay off dozens of teachers, including the one who finally got your teenager to understand algebra.
- It was decided that your ballot in the upcoming election will include a question on whether to raise your property tax.
- The restaurant you frequent down the street is closing after five decades of serving great homestyle meals.
- A neighbor of yours, the one with the big house and flashy car, is accused in a massive fraud case.
- A major crime spree has hit the community, and officials are preaching vigilance.
- Dry conditions have prompted an outdoor-burning ban and you won’t be allowed to have your traditional Fourth of July cookout. \n
You get the picture. There are always many stories brewing in your community that directly impact your life. And quite often, reading local news coverage, whether in print or on a newspaper’s website, is the only way to learn about those topics. In all but the rarest of occasions, major national media outlets won’t have a report from the city council meeting.
Reading the local news is the first step. What you do afterward—how you use the information—is just as important.
Sometimes a story can spark action by a community’s residents. Say that new “questionable” business mentioned in the earlier example was approved only on first reading by the city council. A news article explains that in two weeks a second reading and final vote are slated, but only after a period of public comment. That’s an opportunity to have your voice heard and possibly change a few minds before a decision is made.
Being an informed citizen is a major step toward being a good citizen.