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Our View: The Roseville stories that aren’t being told

By: Graham Womack, Staff Writer
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As a media outlet in the Sacramento region, the Roseville Press Tribune operates at a competitive disadvantage.

Compared to the Sacramento Bee, to several broadcast stations and to other outlets that cover this region, we are a lean operation, a weekly newspaper with a small but dedicated staff.

Within these parameters, I think we generally do good work. Pick up this paper any given week and we’ll typically have stories about city hall, land development and whatever news has recently broken that we can cover. To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, we do the best we can with what we have.

Lately, though, I’ve been wondering about how we can take our coverage to the next level. I’ve been wondering about the Roseville stories that aren’t being told and how we get more of them into this paper. I’d like very much to do this.

I thought about this again upon reading a quote from Kelly McBride of the Florida-based Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism school which analyzes the media.

“Good journalists have always figured out that within the beat structure, the best stories are those that aren’t being told,” McBride told the Columbia Journalism Review in 2016.

The article McBride is quoted in points out a potential pitfall for journalists. In this job, it is easy to fall into a cycle of mostly talking to elected officials and spokespeople and mining stories out of meeting agendas, public notices and news releases. One can fill a paper this way. Sometimes, we do.

But I think we’re doing a disservice to the people of Roseville when we go too long without venturing beyond this. This city has 135,000 residents and counting. Something’s always going on here.

The best kind of journalism – my favorite, at least – involves talking to new people. It involves cold calls. It involves knocking on random doors.

To be clear, I think we do this a fair amount. Just last week, I interviewed a group of homeless people I encountered downtown. In recent months, I’ve also spoken to a 72-year-old man who just got his first tattoo; the daughter of a famous writer, John Fante who lived and wrote in Roseville in the 1930s; and the father of a man whose body was found in a secluded marsh near North Sunrise Avenue in late July.

I think the Press Tribune regularly gets anecdotes and information about Roseville that no other outlet does. But I also know that in a city of 135,000, there are so many more stories to be told than what we’re aware of.

Let’s change this.

I’m going to do my part and keep seeking out new people to talk to for stories. In the meantime, I ask anyone willing to help us find more: give us a call or shoot us an email when something is going on around here.

The Roseville Press Tribune is small and scrappy. With help from readers, I think we can be something more for Roseville.