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'Today from the Ohio Newsroom' turns one today. Here's what we've covered so far

A woman sits in a chair, leaning forward holding a mic. Another woman in a visor gestures mid-sentence as she speaks.
courtesy of Kendall Crawford
The Ohio Newsroom
The Ohio Newsroom's Kendall Crawford (pictured) and Erin Gottsacker have spent the year traveling all over the state to report stories from Ohio's news deserts.

On June 12, 2023, Ohio public radio stations broadcast the first episode of Today from the Ohio Newsroom.

It was a collaboration years in the making. The state’s public media organizations – Cincinnati Public Radio, WCSU in Wilberforce, WGTE in Toledo, WOSU Public Media in Columbus, WYSO in Yellow Springs, WYSU in Youngstown, and Ideastream Public Media in Cleveland, Akron and Canton – had founded the newsroom in response to the decline in local news organizations and chosen to make the weekday news report its first priority.

Now, a year after launching its flagship project, The Ohio Newsroom has published and broadcast 245 features, interviewed more than 400 people and visited 53 of the state’s 88 counties.

Its reporters, Kendall Crawford and Erin Gottsacker, joined Managing Editor Clare Roth, to discuss the first year of stories and what’s on the horizon.

This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity

One of our key missions is to report from undercovered communities, especially in so-called news deserts where local publications have closed. How did the two of you go about that in the last year?

EG: Kendall and I visited places that are off the beaten trail. In the past year, I’ve walked along a floodwall next to the Ohio River, I’ve visited a boxing ring outside of Toledo, a mobile eye clinic in Jackson, a farm in Van Wert.

As we visited all these places, we talked to a lot of people. Kendall and I interviewed 400-plus people in the past year and these are people from all over the state, from all walks of life. I talked to an Amish woman who left her community, a Shawnee chief about renaming the Wayne National Forest. We talked to people who live near a uranium enrichment plant in Piketon.

KC: And it’s also the diversity in topics as well that we’ve been able to cover. For example, we’ve covered housing from so many different angles: we’ve gotten to see how some towns are looking for accountability for landlords, how towns are using different spaces to solve housing shortages, and how different cities are approaching homelessness and supporting unhoused people.

The same goes for food access and education. These are the topics you don’t just hear once about on our Today from the Ohio Newsroom, we get to look at it from a lot of different perspectives and again from those places you might not have heard of before.

Today from the Ohio Newsroom is a collaboration of the state’s public radio stations and we’ve done a lot of reporting that connects dots across the state–tell me about a few of those projects.

KC: I reported on esports taking hold at Ohio universities across the state, and talked to schools all across the state about what this fun extracurricular does for higher ed. Erin did a really great story at how towns were instituting different marijuana regulations, following the passage of Issue 2. And we’ve also covered how communities across Ohio are dealing with the proliferation of dollar stores.

Plus, we’ve connected reporters across the state to get a bigger, statewide look at those issues they cover. For example, our two environmental reporters from Cleveland and Dayton paired up to get a better understanding of methane regulations in Ohio, and two of our education reporters just did a two-parter about school closures.

Beyond those collaborative reporting projects, we did some pretty cool series this year, like Freaky Fridays celebrating Ohio spookiness in October and Made in Ohio May, looking at Ohio’s manufacturing tradition. What’s coming up in the next year for The Ohio Newsroom?

EG: Well, Clare, I’m happy to report that soon, the Ohio Newsroom will have its own newsletter! We’re calling it the Lift, it’ll come out twice a month, and it’ll be a compilation of good, solutions-focused, uplifting news stories from around the state. So keep an eye out for that!

But of course, it’s not all fun and games. We’re going to be doing some serious reporting too, including a project about the $800 million in opioid settlement money Ohio will be getting. That’s a lot of money and there’s not much oversight over where it’s all going. So it’s a story we’ll be following really intentionally over the next year.

And just like this year, we’ll still be traveling all over Ohio, trying to get to places we haven’t been to before, and just continuing to try to live up to our tagline which is connecting news and neighbors all over this great state.

If you have a pitch of where we should go next, email us at storyideas@ohionewsroom.org.

Erin Gottsacker is a reporter for The Ohio Newsroom. She most recently reported for WXPR Public Radio in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.
Kendall Crawford is a reporter for The Ohio Newsroom. She most recently worked as a reporter at Iowa Public Radio.
Clare Roth is the managing editor of The Ohio Newsroom. She coordinates coverage of the entire state, focusing particularly on news deserts.