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Black Friday shooting makes case for local journalism

Tragedies often bring out the big difference in the depth of coverage provided by local and national news sources.

In the early hours of Friday morning, Demond Cottman was shot and killed in a Black Friday-related shooting in the parking lot of Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing New Jersey.

A Google search for the shooting immediately pulled up stories from the big national outlets like CNN, Fox and The New York Daily News. Their coverage was not bad by any means, but it lumped the story in with two other Black Friday shootings and gave scant details on the victim.

A local newspaper called The Press of Atlantic City covered the local angle and provided more detail. Their coverage not only gave detailed information about the victim — that he was a new father and was a football standout in high school — but it also gave a glimpse into how the community was reacting to the shooting. They talked to Cottman’s family, people who knew him and other shoppers at the mall.

The national coverage painted Demond Cottman as just another Black Friday shooting victim in a long string of Black Friday violence that we read about every year. The local coverage showed us the person. It gave us details — both good and bad — about a human being who’s life was taken in a senseless crime.

This is why we need local news. There are certain details that only local news organizations can provide because they have relationships with people and sources in their communities. Large national news outlets are great at summarizing the information, but to be truly informed, take a look at the journalism being done on the local level.

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