Stephen Marcantel works at the Acadiana Advocate in Lafayette, Louisiana, covering the news coverage gaps facing rural Acadiana, the surrounding parishes of Lafayette. He graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2022 with a bachelor’s in mass communications. Since then, he has worked as a freelancer at the Acadiana Advocate covering various business and life stories. He also freelanced for the nonprofit online newspaper The Current in Lafayette. Marcantel has covered stories of mothers losing their children to fentanyl and fighting for change, food insecurity facing the poorest in our community, the lack of shelter space for those experiencing homelessness in Lafayette, and Lafayette’s struggle to clean up the Vermilion River.
Beat: Rural communities
Decreasing population in rural communities in south Louisiana is driving an economic decline that began in 2014. A third of businesses and households in the seven-parish region of Acadiana lack access to reliable internet. School systems are struggling under a constrained tax base. The same communities lack access to quality care and face numerous health disparities compared with urban counterparts. The rural Acadiana reporter investigates the causes underlying these challenges and explores proposed solutions.