After they leave

Whenever there’s a major story like the Camp Fire, what’s the role of local newspapers?

Take a look at Chico News & Review editor Melissa Daugherty’s Twitter feed, and it’s obvious.

“What’s left of the Paradise Safeway--nearly unrecognizable,” she wrote, on November 9, amid the wreckage of the Camp Fire on its second day. “I don’t want to sound dramatic, but there’s a lot of devastation up on the Ridge. I saw several homes that inexplicably survived, right next to ones that were obliterated. An eerily quiet scene.”

Last week, Daugherty and writer Ashiah Scharaga reported a heart-wrenching story about people who survived the most destructive wildfire in California history. In this case, survivors are their neighbors and even co-workers. At least two in our News & Review family have lost their homes.

The national media tackles the climate change angle, the occasional human interest story, the president’s visit and his stupid tweets. Give it a few weeks and some rain, and the WaPos and CNNs won’t be around.

It’s the reporters and editors at CN&R and, yes, even its competitors at the dailies, the Chico Enterprise Record, Oroville Mercury-Register and still-circulating Paradise Post, who will be tasked with helping survivors navigate the mess. As Paradise rebuilds, as the remains of thousands of missing people are identified. Providing useful information that people need in real time. They’re part of that community. They’re not going anywhere.