Local News Matters

Guest Columnist Geri Throne / May 25, 2020

Local news matters. It connects our community. It keeps us informed about major city decisions that affect our quality of life. It keeps track of government, shining a bright light on the actions of government officials, both elected and appointed. It helps foster political involvement.

Each spring, the Winter Park Voice seeks donations and pledges to support its newsgathering efforts. I hope you can respond generously. As a reader and a journalist, I believe that financial support of the Voice is more important now than ever.

Why? Because Winter Park is one more example of the precarious state of local news coverage nationwide. Just a few years ago, the Voice’s Anne Mooney had plenty of company at City Hall when she reported and researched stories. Fellow journalists from the Orlando Sentinel and the weekly Winter Park Observer also attended City Commission meetings and wrote about City Hall news.

But in 2019, the Observer ceased covering Winter Park. And as the Sentinel continues to trim its staff, its local news coverage has greatly diminished.

Meanwhile, in Winter Park, the Voice remains.

From its inception 10 years ago, the Voice has strived to be an impartial, reader-supported source of local news. Like a growing number of online “hyperlocal” news outlets throughout the country, it focuses on local government. After all, what happens at City Hall has the most direct effect on residents – from zoning decisions and parks improvements to bond issues and tax increases. The Voice not only reports and publishes articles online, but also invites community members to submit columns and comments. It moderates the Winter Park Voice page on Facebook.

As a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel in the 1980s and 1990s, I quickly learned that failure to pay attention to government boards or agencies, no matter how insignificant they may seem, could result in decisions that have little to do with the public good.

Unfortunately, Central Florida’s struggling news industry mirrors a nationwide trend that began with the rise of the internet. Declining advertising revenues over a period of 15 years has shuttered more than a quarter of our country’s newspapers. More than 60 dailies and 1,700 weeklies have closed. Remaining newspapers often lack the resources to cover routine public meetings and hold public officials accountable. The Voice does not need bricks and mortar to keep local news alive in Winter Park, but it does need your support.

Keep in mind — the less we pay attention, the more we pay the price. Your contributions are vital to sustaining the Voice. Please give as generously as you can.

Thank you.

Geri Throne, author of the recently published novel “Secret Battles,” is a frequent contributor to the Winter Park Voice.

  • author's avatar

    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

  • author's avatar

Share This