Public Makes Concerns Known

The concept of “citizen journalism” has been given a substantial amount of attention during the past few years, as advances in technology made it possible for virtually anyone to become part of that often misunderstood institution, “the media.” Anyone with a computer and a connection to the Internet can produce a Web page, complete with a “blog.”

But there is much more to journalism than merely being able to make one’s voice heard, sometimes to millions of people, sometimes to a handful. There is a vast, important difference between “the media” and the kind of journalism Ohio Valley residents — and all Americans — need to obtain reliable, unbiased information.

Still, “citizen journalism” is important, in part because it provides a look into the concerns of people outside the commercial news media. This year, we at The Intelligencer decided to make residents of the Northern Panhandle and East Ohio an integral part of one of the most important projects we handle each year.

It is our annual “Progress edition,” something the newspaper has done for many years. Like many other publications with annual “Progress editions,” the traditional format for our report had been a simple look at our valley, with an emphasis on progress made during the previous year. But a few years ago, we decided that wasn’t enough. We began using the annual project to address specific, important issues and to ask hard questions about them, in an effort to get answers for our readers.

This year, we made an important departure from that formula. Instead of asking questions and addressing issues of interest to our reporters and editors, we decided to ask our readers to participate. Our reporters fanned out throughout the Ohio Valley, with a single query for members of the public: What would you like to know about government, industry, education, energy and other issues of importance to you?

Hundreds of people jumped at the opportunity to participate — to become part of “citizen journalism.” We took the questions and got answers for as many of them as we could.

Beginning today and continuing through Thursday, the results of that process will be published in special sections included with the newspaper, under the title, “The Public Voice.”

We are exceedingly proud of “The Public Voice,” simply because it is just that — an opportunity for area residents to become part of community journalism in the Ohio Valley.

We hope our readers will enjoy the report. More important, we encourage leaders in every facet of life, at the local, state and yes, national levels, to pay attention to it. Our project isn’t just another one from “the media.” This one is much more important than that — because, in a very real way, it truly is the voice of the public.