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A Youthful Approach To Hyper-Local Journalism

Phoebe Flanigan
The staff of the Oak Street Reporter

This story originally aired on June 3, 2017.

At the edges of the things we know, there are “the woods.” And so often, we find ourselves there, feeling our way, sometimes blindly, through undefined landscapes.

There’s something jarring, yet liberating, about the moment when you realize that so many of the people around you are doing the same. Parents, politicians, career “experts” — all, on some level, blazing an uncertain path through uncharted territory.

Nigel Jaquiss is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist at Willamette Week in Portland. He’s spent his career exploring the woods — mapping them out for others to follow. But he says the job is not without hazards.

“We get lost all the time as reporters,” says Jaquiss. “And sometimes you go down paths that are dead ends. Sometimes you go down paths that might lead you to the equivalent of a cliff or to a scary monster.”

Jaquiss lives in Southeast Portland, along a quiet road called Oak Street. And about six months ago a new news outlet sprung up, just a few blocks from his house. It’s a hyper-local bimonthly called the Oak Street Reporter, piloted by three enterprising young journalists: Cian McKeown, Anmol Patel, and Sita Niemann. They feature daily news, as well as regular columns centered around topics like social justice and the environment.

The catch? They’re all in elementary school.