Editor's note: This article is part of a special series celebrating National Newspaper week Oct. 6-12. The Week was designated in 1940 as a way to recognize the importance of newspapers to their communities.
Never before have we been surrounded by so much raw data. Never before have there been so many "citizen journalists" sharing photos, stories, opinions, complaints. Immediately, from wherever they are.
You might ask, with all this information available for free and updated at a moment's notice, why would anyone need a local newspaper to tell them what is going on?
In truth, local news and local news reporters haven't become superfluous because of the information glut. They've become more important than ever.
Yes, it is valuable to hear directly from the source -- the candidate explaining his position, the public library posting its budget, the high school baseball coach tweeting about the big win.
But only a local reporter, sifting through all the information, taking into account the context and by asking adroit questions on information not provided -- can pull the story together in a way that makes the election, the budget and even the game much clearer, and more valuable to the reader.
And as more information is pushed digitally into the public consciousness, more than ever a community needs reporters to make sense of it all.
Local news reporters have a big responsibility. When a reporter asks how many school board members went to the school board conference, what they spent and how valuable the conference was -- she is asking on behalf of every taxpayer in that school district.
Unlike national news, which is reported, re-reported, politicized, endlessly analyzed, spun and debated, local coverage is more modest, with less attention paid.
And yet, it is the stuff that all our lives revolve around -- the condition of our streets, the quality of our schools, the prosperity of our businesses, the charities looking out for our less fortunate.
Local news is what makes a community out of a collection of homes and businesses. Nothing validates a triumph like seeing it in the local paper. The school play, city council election, college graduation, a new business opening, all take on greater significance when shared with the community.
Today, the method of delivering news has expanded from print only to myriad digital platforms. But what has not changed is the importance of reporting.
Trained reporters, working at the local level, do what they always did -- take the raw data and inspect it from all sides. And you should be glad they do.
• Renee Trappe has devoted her career to local news in the suburbs. She joined the Daily Herald in 1985 and lives in Des Plaines. Follow her on Twitter @DH_RTrappe.