Sunday Feature: These reporters lost their jobs. Here are the stories they couldn’t tell.

From left: Gary Warner, former state bureau chief for The Bulletin in Bend, Ore.; Nanette Light, a former reporter for The Dallas Morning News; Gabriel San Román, former reporter for The OC Weekly.
Credits/.From left: Joe Kline for The New York Times; Nathan Hunsinger for The New York Times; Federico Medina for The New York Times

Amid a crisis in local news, eight journalists who left newsrooms in 2019 reflect on the stories left in their notebooks. Photographers who also lost their jobs captured them on their former beats.

By Sarah Mervosh, Amy Harmon and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs | The New York Times

They were experts on New Orleans public schools and Oregon state politics. They shared the news when a popular high school basketball player in Colorado returned to the court after a knee injury, and they helped solve the mystery of a City Hall cake vandalism in Texas. At newspapers big and small — for moments grand and modest — these local newspaper journalists told the stories of their communities.

Until one day, when they were gone.

Across the country this year, more than 1,000 newspaper employees lost their jobs, highlighting a crisis in local journalism that has been intensifying for more than a decade. The shrinking of local news — driven by factors including a decline in print advertising and the mergers of newspaper companies — has serious consequences, from decreased voter turnout to increased polarization.

And then there are the lost stories.

In interviews, eight one-time local journalists told us about the stories they still had in their notebooks. To capture their images, we turned to photojournalists who used to work alongside them, until they lost their jobs as well.


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December 2019