Journalists as a ‘community directory of last resort’

Journalists fill such a unique role in communities. As a mirror, we show the best and the worst. We also often serve as a kind of directory of last resort.

I want to tell you something incredible, yet familiar, that happened recently.

For years our newsroom has informally guided people on resources, including a lot of small business and career advice. Rightly is seen having insight on company cultures and entrepreneurship; is keen on social services and nonprofit best practices.

There are many extraordinary examples of our newsroom helping our community. That list is better for another time. But one late night another extreme example happened and it says so much about local journalism, and our Technically Media team right now.

Two elderly people and Generocity newsletter subscribers, one of whom has covid-like symptoms, emailed our editor Sabrina Vourvoulias late. They were suddenly feeling very scared. They needed food assistance but were overwhelmed. They didn’t know where to start. They called Sabrina.

Overcome by responsibility, Sabrina gave them some advice and then reached out to several of her sources. She made connections, and now generously the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management is going to share a write-up specifically on this topic, of how to help those who are paralyzed by fear and stress right now.

Then of course this morning, after our team began reading her near midnight share in our #impact Slack channel, others jumped in.
Vincent Better, who is active in his church, mentioned services he is a part of, others shared too. What a reminder that this the team I want to be a part of.

Most journalists reading this have some story like this. This is not actually rare. Not for us, and not for Sabrina. But it is another quiet, private role that journalists play. To our communities, we are seen as informed, impartial connectors. This trust means everything.

We need each other. We all have to do our part. Both now in this health crisis, and the economic shock to follow. Frontline workers first. But hat tip to the information gatherers and fact checkers and community connectors. Many call themselves journalists.

Thanks to all of you; we’re going to be involved in A LOT of this work in the next few weeks. Thank you, in particular, Sabrina.

This is from a Twitter thread; Flight Directory by Ricardo Cruz via Unsplash

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