All Journalism Is Local

By Ashlee Scott

Former journalist Donna Reed visits RACC to provide journalistic advice to students.

Articles that were written today will become tomorrow’s history, and the news provides a chance to look back into that history, said Donna Reed, a former journalist for the Reading Eagle Company.

Reed, who worked in the journalism field for more than 20 years, spoke to the students in fall 2015’s Writing for the Media class about her journey as a journalist and the true essence of journalism—it is community-based.

Reed is a Reading resident and District 5 City Council representative for Reading. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and political science from The American University in Washington, D.C., where she began her successful career in journalism. Initially, she was a go-fer for the Copley News Service in the nation’s capitol, delivering messages.

Reed told the students that her dream was to cover stories and be an active-member in the Washington news environment.

As a go-fer, she explained, she was able to network and gain new experience by being in the forefront of the activities that were taking place in the White House prior to the Watergate scandal—the major scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon.

However, life took her onto a different path.

Reed came back to her hometown to focus on writing articles that were locally-based, which led her to a revelation about journalism.

“True journalism is always locally based,” Reed explained to the student journalists. “Politics are local. All journalism is local. The big stories you read had to start somewhere.”

She emphasized that people think journalism is about gossiping and digging up personal information about prominent people.

Reed disagreed: “Looking into [personal] information hurts the journalist.”

The former journalist emphasized to the class that journalism is meant to connect with the community, to provide information, and to make a mark in history.

Reed stressed that being able to personally connect with the community is essential for journalistic writing. She worked to connect to the hearts of the towns she covered. Her news writing fostered a sense of community by reporting on things her readers cared about.

Before answering questions at the end of the speech, Reed noted that each journalist will walk on a different path, but that path eventually leads back home.