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The Jefferson Journal is JPR's members' magazine featuring articles, columns, and reviews about living in Southern Oregon and Northern California, as well as articles from NPR. The magazine also includes program listings for JPR's network of stations.

Journalism Is Not A Spectator Sport

Now, you can send story tips to JPR reporters and the Jefferson Exchange, read reporters’ bios and their work, and get our individual contact information.

In August I participated in an event called Putting Communities First in Southern Oregon’s News and Civics Information Ecosystem. It was over Zoom and was hosted by the University of Oregon’s Agora Journalism Center. The event was for journalists but also residents of Southern Oregon and the South Coast. It was meant to be a venue to talk about the state of local news from the perspective of both journalists and listeners. It was a chance for our audience to hear how we work and for us reporters to hear what people want more of.

During a breakout session in a Zoom room, a woman from Roseburg said she wanted someone at every city council meeting and water board meeting in her local community. Another participant said they wanted more watchdog and investigative reporting. I want those things too, but in a newsroom of six reporters, hosts and producers, two of whom are regularly out reporting in the community, it’s a challenging thing to pull off. Add to that a broadcast region that spans the Klamath Basin, Redding, Coos Bay, Humboldt, and north to Eugene. That’s a lot of public meetings. But, talking with the Roseburg resident afterwards, I was reminded that maybe there is a way to tackle this yawning gap and make our local journalism go farther. That’s where you come in.

I can offer one solution to address this problem. Now, you can send story tips to JPR reporters and the Jefferson Exchange, read reporters’ bios and their work, and get our individual contact information.

What will this do?

First, my hope is it will help us better leverage the knowledge, experience, and eyes and ears of you, our audience, to help guide our reporting. Is there an important issue coming up at your country commissioners or board of supervisors’ meeting? Is there an innovative project in your community that deserves attention? Or is there something that doesn’t quite smell right going on in your town that warrants an investigation?

We’re living in the age of social media, when everyone can be a publisher. The Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter David Fahrenthold says he thinks of himself and his reporting method as that of a blue whale—consuming huge amounts of information and filtering out small, interesting pieces along the way. Now, you can use JPR’s tip website to help us do the same.

Secondly, I hope this kind of audience-centric reporting will help build trust in local communities. It’s a chance for us to better cover the interesting and newsworthy stories that might otherwise go unnoticed in Roseburg, Crescent City, Chiloquin, Tulelake and areas in between.

Your tips will help us keep listeners informed and will make our work better. Help us investigate.

Producing good journalism often comes down to resources. In the most basic terms, money helps us retain staff, build reporters’ skills, and physically get out into the field to do interviews. JPR just finished our fall fund drive. Thank you to everyone who contributed for helping us produce the news in this region.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.