© 2024 WHRO Public Media
5200 Hampton Boulevard, Norfolk VA 23508
757.889.9400 | info@whro.org
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

WHRO News Pubs Put Local Journalism in the Spotlight

It was a lively conversation recently at Smartmouth Brewing Company’s Pilot House in Virginia Beach. The topic on everyone’s mind—local journalism.

WHRO Public Media presented the first in a series of News Pubs. These fun, informative events are designed to bring the community together to discuss the state of local news coverage. Attendees were able to grab a beer, hang out with friends, and hear from journalists who are on the front lines of covering Hampton Roads.

WHRO News Director Mechelle Hankerson and Investigative Journalist Lou Hansen of the Virginia Center for Investigative Journalism at WHRO shared with audience members the importance of local journalism. In societies without robust local reporting, there is evidence that voting participation decreases and corruption and taxes increase, explained Hankerson.

WHRO believes that the wellbeing of a community is influenced by the content and quality of local journalism. Increasingly, cities and counties across the Commonwealth of Virginia are becoming news deserts — communities with limited access to credible and comprehensive news and information. Hampton Roads residents have seen the beginnings of this trend, with buyouts by large national groups, layoffs, and voluntary exits, the area's two most prominent newspapers, The Virginian-Pilot and The Daily Press, had a staffing reduction of 90 percent. That has left approximately 40 journalists at these publications to cover an area of nearly 2 million people.

Not only do journalists hold local authorities accountable for their actions, but they also serve as a stand-in for community members who are unable to attend important community events such as city council meetings or school board meetings, explained Hansen.. “We share what we learn with you,” he said, “which brings a deeper understanding of the community to everyone.”

As community members become more informed about the important issues their community is facing, they are better equiped to be more civically engaged, he said.

While the number of local print journalists in the region has declined, WHRO is commited to restoring robust local reporting. As a nonprofit newsroom, WHRO News provides free access to news that is focused on public service journalism, emphasizing key local issues for social and civic impact for the public good to help communities, businesses and individuals thrive.

The WHRO Newsroom has been expanding quickly and will continue to grow to meet the needs of the community. The newsroom already features reporters dedicated to covering the areas of the environment and climate change; culture and equity; and military and veterans. Future plans include adding reporters to cover education; healthcare; and business development and growth.

One purpose behind the series of News Pubs is to allow WHRO journalists to hear directly from community members about which issues in their community are most important to them.

Did you miss the event in Virginia Beach? Here are our next upcoming events: Norfolk - Thursday, April 13 | Reaver Brewing Newport News - Thursday, May 25 | Tradition Brewing Williamsburg - Wednesday, June 21 | Virginia Beer Company

Learn more and register to attend.

We hope you will join us for these important conversations!