Hello to all you wonderful readers of the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service.
I am excited and humbled to introduce myself to you. My name is Devin Blake, and I am the new health reporter for NNS.
I say I am excited because one of the first things that was clear to me about NNS is how seriously its readership takes community journalism. The comments section on NNS stories alone is proof of that – it is one of the most constructive and educational places I’ve seen on the internet.
Your standards are extremely high, and you don’t let NNS reporters off the hook. When you find something helpful, you say so. When something misses the mark in some way, you say so.
I have also learned that your engagement with the newsroom has very much helped shape its coverage. You want stories that are both true and useful. You want your news to be accurate, of course, but you also expect the information to help you navigate, in real time, the neighborhoods in which you live and work.
That is a tall order, and the NNS leadership of Executive Director Ron Smith and Managing Editor O. Ricardo Pimentel put these demands at the forefront of the work they do.
I will make sure to continue to write these kinds of stories for you.
Specifically, as the health reporter, I will be writing stories that affect your physical, mental and emotional well-being. That is, obviously, an extremely wide range of issues and means different things to different people.
There are urgent, overarching issues, including the city’s new mental health emergency center, changes in vaccine availability and the ongoing crisis surrounding lead service lines. But there are smaller things happening that affect your health, too.
Ultimately, health reporting is about the things you want for your life and the lives of your loved ones.
I say I am humbled to introduce myself because I am relatively new to the city. My wife and her family are from the area, and, when I first visited, I immediately wanted to move here. Over time, we developed a long-term plan to do so, but, when the pandemic hit and we had our baby in the very first week of lockdowns, our plan sped up considerably.
We moved to the area in December 2021, and I am so happy that we did.
But Milwaukee is its own universe, and I need to be out there in the community meeting people, understanding what they’re hoping for and worried about. I need to be a presence with the politicians and decision-makers, making sure they are being held to account for the choices they are making and how these choices are affecting your health.
Much of my experience as a reporter consists of writing about the connection between residents and businesses and what this connection means for the overall health of those specific communities. I also spent many years as a resource coordinator in the world of social services, helping improve communication and information-sharing between nonprofits, policymakers, and the various stakeholders. I understand the difference between official narratives and the on-the-ground reality of pursuing health services. I will bring to bear all this experience for NNS.
I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and to be doing this work. Please feel free to reach out with thoughts or concerns. Please let me know whether I’ve missed the mark or if you found something particularly useful.
Thank you, and I am looking forward to it.
How to reach Devin
You can reach me at email@example.com