Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Hyper-local: Isn't that what we used to do?

Blunt, the arch cynic who writes the blog Playing the Game, has got his teeth into hyper-local and community journalism.
He writes: "Back in the old days journalists used to have a strange device called a contacts book. In it they would put the names and telephone numbers of interesting local characters, councillors, gossips, cops, lawyers, judges, tattle tales and other ne'er do wells.
"The journalist would use another outdated device called a telephone and ring said contacts on a regular basis to get stories to put in the paper. Some would give you regular stories, others were less forthcoming and normally motivated by petty spite, personal ambition or greed.
"We called it basic reporting.
"Nowadays we call these people 'community correspondents', we are their 'mentors' and the whole thing has the twee title of 'citizen journalism'. It's all part of the great hyperlocal plan - reporting down your local street.
"But shouldn't your 'local' paper already be covering each of the areas.
"Oh hang on, didn't all the reporters get fired already?"


Russell said...

Seems a bit of an old0guard rant from Blunt. I freelanced in print in the 1990s and on the web over the past couple of years. "Hyperlocal" sites are blossoming all over the UK - with admittedly varying degrees of quality - and those of us seeking to have a balanced but interesting presence actually do have lists of contacts and other avenues where we gather real news.

Online versions of local papers here in Sheffield carry good stories still - as well as the usual dross - but they are soooo reluctant to insert hyperlinks into text, presumably because they want to keep readers captivated for the benefit of advertisers.

Its advertising that's really changing. Mendicant journalism is now just getting mauled and dragged along as the times change.

It's difficult to find paying models for hyperlocal sites - but work does come in for anyone maintaining a quality presence of interest to the community. And working pretty-much alone can mean it's difficult to do in-depth items as much as one might want to.

The Caledonian Mercury and the West Seattle Blog are two sites to watch. Different in many ways, they are pioneering (with many others) a new model of media.

Dinosaurs can shake their fist at the approaching meteorite as much as they want. The blunt truth is it's time to look forwards and get on with it.

Shields Bialasik said...

History does have a tendency to repeat itself with just a new name and new players. You create a system and then out grow it, someone else comes along and creates a better system and then out grows it.