We saw the explosion of the La Palma volcano live on local Canarian television, RTVC. Their cameras were there just like their reporters, immediately personally overwhelmed and affected by what was happening around them, but quick and effective in their reaction.
“A differential factor in RTVC’s work this Sunday was that its network of reporters was already deployed at different points before the eruption began,” he explains. this VerTele article. There were already reporters living on La Palma and there was already a reinforcement of a couple of dozen more when it was still unclear what would happen and when. The chain, in addition, as part of its public service, gave the images live to the rest of the media.
This week, there are also good reporters from all over Spain to reinforce the coverage, but this should not make us forget the unique value of those who were already there, of those who are also there when nothing so newsworthy happens outside their territory. The knowledge of the neighbors, the neighborhoods and even the geography of the islands has the value of the work cultivated for years, as the local media associated with elDiario.es Canarias Now also shows every day.
In Spain, local media are the ones that arouse the most trust: at least that is what respondents say about media in the annual report of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism of the University of Oxford. “Local or regional newspaper” is the option most trusted by the interviewees.
Local media are often the least funded or the most vulnerable to pressure from local politicians and chieftains, especially if they are public media. Their close work is especially valuable and especially difficult because of the control that politicians can exercise with more margin.
Luckily, the audience is increasingly demanding and when they have enjoyed a professional local medium they do not want to go back, as shown by the drop in the audience of Telemadrid after the political intervention of the regional government to return to the old ways.
The platforms that the media also depend on, such as Google, now reward local information. For this reason, the reader often sees more stories from local or hyper-local media.
But the most newsworthy moments, almost always of crisis, remind us that the local media need more support also in more ordinary times. If they have few resources or are left to the discretion of the politician on duty, they will not be there when we need them most.