Many of us are deeply concerned about the demise of local print journalism. As newspapers disappear, folks find it increasingly difficult to know what is happening in their local communities. They know more and more about events and decisions that do not affect them and over which they have no control. They know less and less about decisions they can influence.
It’s common knowledge that local journalism is the means through which we hold local government accountable to the people. Indeed, a free and independent press is the bedrock of our democracy, enshrined so very well in our Constitution’s First Amendment. The local paper — dedicated to covering local government — has been the singular institution that has been our democracy’s guardian, informing the people of the activities of its local government, the disposition of the people’s money, and the activities of its elected and appointed leaders. Sadly, the economic constraints of local journalism — the movement of advertising dollars away from local papers and the loss of readers, both to the Internet — are causing a corresponding loss of local coverage of local government. Who will guard the people and who will guard local democracy?
Jaxlookout is a web-based platform, a public forum that invites journalists, writers, and thoughtful people to investigate stories, share information, and express opinions about local issues. We will link to other outlets that report on local issues. We will endeavor to interview local candidates for elected office. We will attempt to understand how our city sets priorities. We will conduct simple surveys of what our readers think about the issues. We invite your participation.
Our intent is to engage Jaxsons in a conversation about our city, its public priorities, and our collective future. We will uphold the highest standards of American journalism. We will not allow contributors to engage in name-calling, unfounded accusations, or reckless opinions.
At inception, Jaxlookout is a volunteer effort of committed citizens who care deeply about Jacksonville’s future. It is an experiment. Our start-up will be slow, and we will refresh our stories as our capacity and readership grow.
Please join us. Let us know what issues are important to you and what you wish to learn more about.
Our community will be healthier and more democratic as a result.