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My Summer at The Indy: Learning New Skills and Discovering Community Journalism at Its Finest

At The Indypendent, I found what I was looking for — hands-on experience in local reporting.

Elsie Carson-Holt Aug 17, 2023

Journalism in America is in a  state of crisis. More than two local newspapers a week are disappearing on average. Around one in five Americans live in a “news desert” — a county that has one or less news organization. The newspapers that remain have a limited staff,  leading to major gaps in reporting, especially in local reporting. These sobering statistics have tangible impacts: communities without local newspapers have lower voter turnout and social cohesion, as well as higher rates of polarization and government corruption due to the absence of independent watchdogs.

The role of journalism is to hold those in power accountable, to inform and educate, to help people make sense of the world around them. That most Americans get their news from (one of six) large corporations that do not have public service in mind is a tragedy. 

As a young journalist, The Indypendent gives me hope for the future of reporting. For more than 20 years, it has exemplified the importance of good independent journalism. The Indy provides, for free, access to strong grassroots journalism that covers the issues that impact New Yorkers. Truth and serving the community is centered in all of The Indypendent’s work.  

Covering everything from crusading Starbucks union organizers, to queer liberation marchers, to public housing residents fighting to save their homes. 

Working for The Indypendent this summer, I gained a breadth of experiences writing about issues that matter to communities across New York City. I also gained an understanding of what goes into grassroots media and got hands-on experience doing local reporting. 

My internship included writing a longform article, street reporting and working behind the scenes on the The Indypendent News Hour. It taught me how to report in a way that would connect and inform readers, rather than separate people and facilitate misunderstanding.

Coverage that meant a lot to me were pieces about Queer Liberation March and Dyke March. Interacting with so many different people discussing what their queer identity and community means to them and seeing tens of thousands of LGBTQ+ people march through Manhattan was something I will never forget, especially during a time when LGBTQ+ rights are under attack. I feel as though the way I covered and viewed queer liberation and community was shaped for the better by being able to cover both events. 

My favorite piece I wrote was a longform article for the print edition of The Indy. The article covered a proposed demolition plan for two public housing buildings in Chelsea. The issue was complex and required a lot of research and discussions with tenants and organizers. I held extensive interviews with two remarkable tenant activists; writing a piece that centered them and their concerns about the proposed demolition was important to me. I feel incredibly proud of the work that I produced, and it was a turning point for me — in seeing firsthand how grassroots journalism can center voices that are often ignored by corporate media.

The Indypendent is community-oriented journalism at its finest. It is truly accessible — free both online and in news boxes. No subscription is required to understand the issues your city, borough, or neighborhood is facing. The Indy is not afraid of confronting harsh truths about the presence of corporate giants and corrupt politicians in New York City. But it also does not shy away from highlighting the many people who are doing good work to make the world around them a better place.

 At The Indypendent, I learned skills that will aid me as I continue on in the journalism field. I honed my interviewing, writing, research and source-cultivation skills. But even more so, I am incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to report on issues that matter, and to create work that I am proud of. 

The Indypendent is a New York City-based newspaper and website. Our independent, grassroots journalism is made possible by readers like you. Please consider making a recurring or one-time donation today or subscribe to our monthly print edition and get every copy sent straight to your home.