I think in this case that the nonprofit idea is good. Now, we do have to think about sustainability over the years. And this is what we are going to begin talking about…. And certainly as we bring other states into the picture here, that is something we’re going to have to consider.

But I think the audience is there, I think the product is there.

Knowing that these small-town papers do have limited reporting manpower, what advice would you give to rural editors and reporters who might want to follow up on what you’re doing and localize the ongoing story of the Affordable Care Act in their communities?

I think they should localize it if they can….

[A column] I just did was about a woman in Hastings, Nebraska who was shopping the exchanges out there, and I had followed her for three months…. And it shows the difficulty of people actually shopping in the exchanges to buy a policy. It’s just not an easy thing to do—insurance is a very difficult product to buy.

So that piece ran and was picked up by lots of papers. And that’s the kind of story that local reporters can do. They can find somebody who will shop the exchanges and they can follow their process….

There’s a reluctance to try to work with somebody over a long period of time, but that’s the kind of anecdotal reporting people ought to be doing. [Ed.: For Lieberman’s view on what kind of anecdotal Obamacare reporting to avoid, see her CJR piece from Monday.]

I did that for CJR with a woman in Pennsylvania whom I’ve written about twice. [This sort of reporting takes] some time, but if you’re a reporter, my theory is sometimes you just have to work on your own time if you want to be a good one.

Follow @USProjectCJR for more posts from this author and the rest of the United States Project team.


Ends today: If you'd like to help CJR and win a chance at one of
10 free print subscriptions, take a brief survey for us here.

Deron Lee is CJR's correspondent for Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. A writer and copy editor who has spent seven years with the National Journal Group, he has also contributed to The Hotline and the Lawrence Journal-World. He lives in the Kansas City area. Follow him on Twitter at @deron_lee.