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The Power of Local News

In a world filled with injustice, it can be tough to find ways to make real change. James Ford believes that local news can be a tool for progress.


Ford is a WPIX reporter in New York City, and has been interested in local news since childhood. He says, “When I moved to Washington D.C., I realized how much of a presence local news had there. It left a mark on me.” 

 Ford recognizes that local news has great potential – especially when combined with the internet. He tells the story of Pedro Hernandez, a young man who was arrested for a murder he did not commit. Ford began writing, tweeting and posting about the story – and caught the attention of users with large followings. All of a sudden, social media users joined together to raise Pedro’s bail, and eventually got the judge to drop his charges altogether. Furthermore, the Robert F. Kennedy organization used this case in a greater effort to end cash bail. 

Ford has countless stories like Pedro Hernandez’s. He reports through a lens that resonates with the community beyond the story itself – and by doing so, his stories are able to gain traction. He says “I started telling a number of stories, and on a variety of platforms, people started talking back.” Once the community is involved, these stories get the attention they deserve, and are often resolved. 

He has seen big change in the field over time. He says “Since I’ve been in New York, I’ve gone from shooting one story a day with a photographer, to shooting multiple stories, writing a web story, posting on social media, and accessing more platforms with more variety. This change is what we need to use.”

We have a long way to go before we can achieve social justice for all. Viewing, posting, and participating in local news is a step in the right direction.

James Ford’s talk will be broadcast on TED.com. Click here to watch and learn more!