LNP (Lancaster) revived a community engagement series this year on its website and in the newspaper, the Lancaster Watchdog. The regular feature works with members of the community to let them know their voices are heard and to help resolve issues that matter most to them.
#ThankYouNewspapers for connecting our communities
LNP (Lancaster) has relaunched its Lancaster Watchdog series, where community members can alert the newsroom about issues they are experiencing in their neighborhoods. The aptly-named feature first appeared in February 2008, but has since undergone numerous transformations throughout its on-and-off lifespan.
Lancaster Watchdog reporters Christopher Pratt and Dan Nephin have been working to address readers’ concerns in their communities by making calls to local officials, filing open records requests, and just asking the “right” questions. The goal of the series is to connect with readers and let them know that their voices are heard. It relies heavily on reader engagement and operates primarily on tips received through email, phone calls, and even snail mail, Pratt said.
“Readers can point something out to us that might not warrant a standalone article,” Nephin said, “but what it does is, it lets you connect with that reader.”
“People like to be listened to,” Pratt said.
Sometimes stories that start as Watchdog investigations turn into larger stories that require additional attention. This happened to Nephin when working on a tip regarding “Little Free Libraries” being removed from a neighborhood instead of modified to meet new borough policy. After looking into the issue further, he was able to share with that community the reasoning behind the new policy and further educate the residents about their local government.
Pratt had a similar experience when he was able to share additional knowledge about how the government operates between state and local levels, as well as with school districts. During a county commissioners meeting, a concerned citizen voiced a complaint about a busy intersection that frequently has school bus traffic, asking the county to make the intersection safer. Pratt said he took the opportunity to not only look into the intersection, but also explain the county’s role in road maintenance and their relationship with PennDOT and the school district.
The Watchdog series serves many purposes in the Lancaster area. While it is still a work in progress, the feedback from readers has been overwhelmingly positive, and the community seems grateful that it has returned.
Learn more about Lancaster Watchdog and read the latest articles, at http://lancasteronline.com/read-more-lancaster-watchdog/collection_d39be70c-79ef-11e6-97d2-1f147155d12e.html.