Reporter’s Notebook: What we do, what you do

mugsyJS_375This week, Julia Botero (our new Watertown reporter) and I dug as deeply as we could into the history and career of Republican congressional candidate Elise Stefanik.

A couple of weeks earlier, I trekked through the darkness on a mountain trail to tell the story of scientists trying to understand the impact of White nose syndrome — a deadly disease — on North Country bats.

On Tuesday, assistant News Director David Sommerstein joined a panel of journalists probing the North Country’s congressional candidates for the their views on important issues during the final televised debate from Watertown

Then, yesterday, our St. Lawrence Valley reporter Sarah Harris scrambled to get the latest information on the deadly shooting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.  Within minutes of word that something terrible had happened, Harris was in her car driving north.

It’s no accident that all of this came in the context of our historic membership and fundraising drive, organized by NCPR’s brilliant June Peoples.  Over the last month, hundreds of people responded to a quieter, less intrusive message about the power and importance of public radio.  Our friends and neighbors gave more than ever before, hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What does that money do?  What does that passion do?  Those are complicated questions, really.  On one level, it pays the bills.  It keeps the lights on.  It allows us to earn a salary. But really it’s bigger than that.  It’s deeper than that.

There are a lot of ways to bring in enough money to pay bills and earn a salary.  Not all of them inspire passion.  Not all of them link us together.  Not all of them create a powerful ecology of mission, community, and creativity.  That’s what we’ve seen the last few weeks, a powerful display of what we do and what you do.

You give, you support, you believe actively in the work that we do.  And we work harder, looking for ways to tell your stories with more richness, more accuracy, more powerfully.

The truth is that without your dollars, there’s no way we could do things like spending weeks looking in-depth at political candidates.  There’s no way we could dispatch reporters to Ottawa, or Lac Megantic, or Albany, or wherever we need to go to get the story.  It just wouldn’t happen.

But your engagement also inspires us to be up earlier, to work later, to go into uncomfortable, sometimes risky places, to ask complex, awkward questions.

Of course, it’s not always dramatic moments.  It’s not always “the big story” that we’re chasing.  In the winter ahead, Morning Host Todd Moe and News Director Martha Foley will be rolling out of bed in the darkness to get ready to help you start your day just a little bit better.  Our new Plattsburgh reporter Zach Hirsch will be deepening our ties to Clinton County and the Champlain Valley.

We’ll have more in-depth reporting from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise’s Chris Knight about the Tri-Lakes, more in-depth coverage from capital correspondent Karen DeWitt in Albany, and more powerful essays at from NCPR station manager Ellen Rocco and web-guru Dale Hobson.

All of this is happening in the context of an American journalism and media culture that is generally growing thinner, more impoverished, more bleakly disconnected from our communities.  With your help, we’re bucking that trend.  We’re fighting clear of the malaise, laying down big markers of ambition and mission right here in the North Country.

I’m connecting all these dots so you’ll understand just how deep our gratitude is.  This work, the work that you did on behalf of NCPR, matters.   It is, after all, one of the biggest and most hopeful stories in the North Country.  Thanks to everyone who is part of it.

8 Comments on “Reporter’s Notebook: What we do, what you do”

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  1. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    All true. NCPR is really great, but I gave so that I wouldn’t have to hear Brian talk about everyone’s passion. And it almost worked.

  2. Best regional journalism source hands down.

    This site is also the only regional site that has a comment section worth reading. Most of the others make me want to take a shower after reading a few comments.

  3. Brian Mann says:

    KHL – You can mock my rhetorical excesses as much as you like, so long as you’ve chipped in your lucre. :)

    –Brian, NCPR

  4. Mitch Edelstein says:

    I drove to Utica yesterday and because NCPR hasn’t fully covered New York state just yet, I tuned into one of those “long-hair” classical stations with their smooth as silk voices telling you what composer you just heard. But no, those smooth voices were nervously asking people to “support” the station. They sounded like they were embarrassed to ask. My first reaction was: oh yeah it’s fundraiser week. How nice to head back home and listen to NCPR and know the fundraiser took three hours. Thanks Brian and June and everyone for your outstanding work. Mitch – Raquette Lake

  5. Ellen Rocco says:

    Admit it, Knucklehead, fall wouldn’t be fall without Brian using the word “passion”–it gets all of us ready for the cold days of winter. And, thanks, KHL, for contributing. I certainly think of you as part of our public media community. Feel as if I know you…probably do. :)

  6. Jim Bullard says:

    I appreciate (and support) NCPR’s journalism especially the fact that they allow all voices to be heard. I can’t say as much for other news sources in the North Country. OTOH Mitch I like that “long hair music” too and often wish there were more of it available in the North Country airwaves. When NCPR moved away from that I depended on CBC2 but even they aren’t a reliable source anymore either. I guess I’ll be forced to buy a satellite radio and subscribe to that.

  7. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Ellen, I love you guys, but you are crazy to just throw leaves on your garlic without chopping them up. I did that once and had to go through in the spring and clear each one out by hand. Maybe it is the magic of NCPR passion that helps your garlic push on through but I just don’t have that much passion, I have to chop my leaves or use straw.

  8. Mitch Edelstein says:

    Jim, I wasn’t putting down the “long hair music” I was commenting on the delicate way they ask for your money. NCPR says send us MONEY (bold Caps) — no delicate requests. Ellen tells you like it is, we need you to send us some money. They sound like the Victorians who refer to chicken as white and dark meat, because they don’t want to use the word breast.

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