Why local journalists matter in Akron and every community

Stephanie Warsmith represents the quintessential local journalist we treasure at the Akron Beacon Journal.

She’s lived and worked in this community for 24 years, covering a wide range of beats from City Hall to her current role covering local courts, including emotional criminal trials where the worst human pain imaginable is on regular display.

Michael Shearer, editor of the Akron Beacon Journal.
Michael Shearer, editor of the Akron Beacon Journal.

Warsmith is unflappable in her efforts to report accurately and fairly on these cases and a robust portfolio of special projects, including her periodic “Unresolved” series on cold-case murders. She’s also tracking the myriad cases resulting from protests this summer after the police shooting of Jayland Walker.

Stephanie Warsmith: Read her recent work on BeaconJournal.com

All of this is no small task when you consider the complexity of trials and the law, let alone the charged atmosphere some cases provide.  She’s an expert juggler of stories, multitasking and scheduling photographers for changing court dockets.

Stephanie Warsmith
Stephanie Warsmith

In the end, Warsmith weaves together compelling stories that consistently rank among the most read on BeaconJournal.com. She also drives a strong number of new digital-only subscribers.

Earlier this year, Warsmith was named best staff reporter in Ohio in the annual Cleveland Press Club awards for what judges described as "excellent storytelling."

"(She) puts a human face in the forefront of some very heady stories," they wrote. "It’s a fascinating portfolio, so much so that I wanted to read more."

When you consider that most local media, including the Akron Beacon Journal, have fewer reporters in these challenging times, it’s clear we need more Stephanies in every community across the country.  The same could be said of reporters Doug Livingston, Amanda Garrett and Betty Lin-Fisher, veteran journalists who spend their days digging for great stories.

Many readers understandably focus on what’s changed or been “lost” in our print edition in recent years and months.

What hasn’t changed is our staff’s commitment to local journalism, the fundamental reason this business was founded and continues. Akron and every community need quality local journalists asking tough questions of elected leaders, activists and everyone in between.

What has changed is our focus on telling stories online first and in new ways, including special presentation designs.

To preserve journalism in Akron, we've focused heavily on growing our digital subscriber base for the past three years, successfully doubling the number in 2020 and 2021.

Local journalism: 6 reasons why you should subscribe to the Akron Beacon Journal

We’ll add more new digital customers this year than in 2021, including some switching from print, as more and more people choose to consume local news digitally. Our premium subscriber-only content continues to play an important role in this growth.

Good journalists, just like anyone with in-demand skills, expect to be paid a fair salary and benefits in exchange for their services. That’s why our business remains focused on subscriptions. Quality journalism requires real money.

We’re grateful for everyone who supports local journalism and the important impact we can provide for the betterment of our community. In January, I will share a column on the impact of our journalism during 2022, a year that’s challenged everyone on our team.

If you’re already a subscriber, thank you on behalf of our team. If not, we ask you to give Stephanie and her colleagues a chance to continue their important work.

Rest assured, the crisis confronting local journalism is real.

Special offer:Support local journalism with a trial subscription to BeaconJournal.com

Michael Shearer is editor of the Akron Beacon Journal. He can be reached at 330-996-3750 or mshearer@thebeaconjournal.com.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Local journalists like Stephanie Warsmith help our community