Here at the Courier we’ve always had a policy of narrowly focusing on news from Cobb County.
The only exceptions have been on state and national stories that have an obvious and direct impact on Cobb County. I’ve tried to keep even those stories few and far between, and they have been rare.
This is a surprisingly hard policy to stick to, particularly in times like these, with a presidential election looming, COVID-19 ravaging the state and nation, and the national protests around police brutality and racism continuing.
There are hundreds of justifications for diffusing coverage into adjacent counties, and from there statewide and national.
I get phone calls, emails and text messages, often daily, asking me to run stories that are not related to Cobb County. Often they attempt to make a “Six degrees of separation (or Kevin Bacon)” argument by connecting the topic in question to stories we’ve already run.
But there are compelling reasons for us to stick to the policy.
First, we are a tiny organization, and cannot afford to spread our focus. I am the only full-time staffer, and the the other three to five regular reporters are freelancers. If we begin including metro-wide and statewide news, much less national news, we’d miss many important stories in Cobb County.
Second, we’d do it badly. We don’t have the resources of the Washington Post for national stories or the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for metro-wide stories. We can’t even cover the sheer number of stories in Cobb County that the Marietta Daily Journal covers, because even the MDJ has several full-time assignment reporters.
I discovered as the owner of a commercial cabinet company during the 1980s that we were very good at doing jobs that were not beyond our reach, but if we got too ambitious, and took on jobs that a ten-person shop couldn’t handle, that our quality control would fly out the window.
Our strength is in covering topics within the county that we think don’t get enough attention, and in keeping our focus on the county. You’re not likely to ever see an Associated Press story in the Courier.
So if you’re ever disappointed that we’re not running a critically important story, ask yourself “Is this about an event, a person or an issue within Cobb County?”
That should give you your answer on why we’ve steered away from it.
Read it in the AJC, read it in the Washington Post, New York Times, L.A. Times, Baltimore Sun or Tampa Bay Times. There are a lot of great news organizations that do in depth coverage of issues wider than the county.
But come here to the Courier for what we cover. And in the next “From the Editor” I’ll explain why we don’t run much editorial opinion.