The Local Journalists Who Keep City Planning in the News

Planetizen's 2018 "Top Twitter" list focuses on the local journalists who work hard to keep planning projects and processes in the public eye.

5 minute read

August 29, 2018, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell



Malgosia S / Shutterstock

Getting the word out about planning initiatives can be a challenge—many local reporters and editors either lack fluency in the jargon of the planning profession, or are unfamiliar with the potential consequences of poor planning.

There are many examples of local journalists in the United States and Canada that succeed at two critical roles in local politics and planning, however: the ability to identify and portray the importance of planning processes, and the ability to analyze and fairly asses the strengths and weaknesses of planning proposals. With so many interests vying to control the regulatory framework for land use and development in cities, many red herrings—branding and marketing, false equivalences, false choices, gas lighting, and pandering—are sure to obscure the truth.

The work of local journalists savvy to the world of planning thus should be celebrated for its benefit to the communities. Local journalists need and deserve support, especially at a time when the business model for local journalism is in complete disarray, the ideals of the institution are under attack from the highest office in the nation, and the physical safety of journalists is attacked and threatened.

The following list gathers Twitter handles for the local journalists who consistently inform the Planetizen news feed. All the journalists on this list either staff a local publication, focus on a specific geographic location of staff at a national publication, or freelance  for multiple publications while focusing on a specific location. That means that there are many writers who write very well about planning and related fields for a national audience (but here's a shout out for Oscar Perry Abello, Emily Badger, Patrick Sisson, Alexandra Lange, Angie Schmitt, Jared Brey, Henry Grabar, Alana Semuels, Antonio Pacheco, and Kristen Jeffers anyway).

My methodology was not scientific, and it is most certainly not exhaustive. I lack trusted resources in certain cities, but I'd like to improve where I can. Also, my personal and professional history will skew this list westward. Please feel free to supplement the list in the comments for those reasons, and because a more comprehensive list can only benefit the field of planning.

Update: A "Local Journalists" list is now available on the Planetizen Twitter. 
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