Citizen journalists

Jay Peak still has snow. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

by Bethany M. Dunbar, March 12, 2010

Lately I am hearing the term, “citizen journalists” to describe people who contribute to newspapers or web sites with local news.  They are not necessarily professional journalists, but they contribute stories about their home towns.

It’s something the Chronicle has been doing ever since the very beginning.  It happens all the time really, when a proud teacher or parent sends in some news about the kids, or when someone like Theresa Trotier in Newport sends in a column about growing up in Newport years ago.

Dick Drysdale at the Herald of Randolph likes to say that newspapers were the original social networking device.  The original citizen journalists were the ladies who wrote town columns.  Their phone numbers were in the paper, and if anyone went visiting relatives or had a gathering of some sort, they would call the town columnist and get a mention in the local newspaper.

At the Chronicle we still rely on our citizens journalists, and Town Meeting Day is the day of the year we rely on them the most.

On that week, we have to cover 20 town meetings in Orleans County and Brighton.  We do not have half enough editors and reporters to get to all those meetings, and we feel strongly that we want a personal report from each town.  A lot of the newspapers simply call the town clerk or a selectman and find out what happened, but we try really hard to get a story from each town by someone who actually attends the meeting.

And we did it again this year, thanks in part to some incredible citizen journalists.  It’s such a great paper to read every year because of the wide variety of writing styles and because you just never know what might happen at Town Meeting.

We also get some help in recent years from Lyndon State College students who are studying journalism.  This year’s students were exceptional, including two who were willing to stand up at the Brownington Town Meeting and admit having made a mistake in a budget story the week before.

If you missed the paper, check out the Chronicle’s web site where all these stories are posted.

This week was the basketball championships, and I want to say congratulations and thank you to the Lake Region Ranger boys and girls for an amazing season.  Both teams made it to the championship.  Neither team managed to come away with the top prize, but they had a great run.

We can never fit all our photos in the paper, so Joseph Gresser is posting some of the other photos on the Chronicle web site.

Apologies for somewhat muddy photos in the paper this week.  I will get better at Photoshop — I basically can’t get worse at it!  And apologies for missing the Barton Village Annual Meeting, we will get caught up on that one in the next paper.

Meanwhile enjoy the weird spring weather.  I hear the sap’s running, and I’m not talking about politics.


2 responses to “Citizen journalists

  1. Peter H. Roth

    Dear Bethany,
    As a practicing Chemical Engineer, I too am interested in methane. The Germans are way ahead of and in Munich have built a large industrial facility that uses animal, human and regional waste to make methane on an industrial scale. Small farms would find it costly to make methane and economy of scale is important. What the small farmer has to do is protect VT. streams and fresh water run-off from the animal waste that is polluting our streams and lakes. It is a serious problem and should receive funding since clean-up after the fact costs more.
    You can contact me if you have further questions.

    • vermontfeature

      Thanks Peter. I agree with you, preventing pollution is extremely important and should get top priority for funding. One of the great bonuses of methane digesters, as I understand it, is that the liquid fertilizer that is a by-product of the process is much cleaner, has basically no odor, and the chemicals in it that will help plants grow are more “available” so they don’t stay in the soil or get washed off the top of it in a heavy rain. The Munich systems sounds perfect. I have been wondering why all our sewer plants are not making electricity, even if they just made enough to run themselves. Or would that somehow conflict with sewage treatment process?

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