In the spring of 2015 I drove cross-country, documenting newsrooms and journalists at work. I was inspired, in part, by the late New York Times media critic David Carr, who wrote a column headlined “Local Newspapers Shine Light in Society’s Dark Corners.”
Carr described how the journalists at The Record, a daily newspaper in northern New Jersey, broke the story linking Gov. Chris Christie’s staff to the closing of the George Washington Bridge, a scandal known as Bridgegate.
Although national newspapers contributed coverage, “it’s hard to overstate the importance of local journalistic vigilance,” Carr wrote. “Before cable bobbleheads were debating Mr. Christie’s future and bloggers were measuring the political impact of the scandal, there was a reporter and a simple question.”
Carr’s deep respect for the practice of daily journalism was coupled with an awareness of the threats to its future. And although he embraced the digital age, Carr remained a lover of newsprint.
“I find [value in] the curation, the ordering, the creation of a hierarchy in which we preserve a certain idea that we all hold in common about what is important now,” Carr said in an interview. “ … There’s a discipline that goes with making a physical artifact that is not the same as the web but has a significant value both to me as a consumer and to the broader culture at large.”
I share the belief that good journalism can be practiced in the most humble of circumstances and that putting out a paper is worth doing. And so I hoped in a small way to create a visual record of an industry in a time of radical change.