Sunday, December 5, 2010

Can "Hyperlocal" Revive Interest in Journalism?

THE JOURNAL REGISTER Company is set to launch a hyperlocal news portal for the greater Philadelphia region.

“This site will be powered by the audience and will benefit – through traffic and revenue – those who publish their content here,” said JRC VP for content, Jonathan Cooper, who will speak at a PhIJI event on Tuesday (12/7) at 6:30 in Tuttleman 303AB. “We realize the benefit of plural voices in the community. There are hundreds of sources for news about Philadelphia and we will link to those who do it the best.”

Last month, local PBS affiliate WHYY launched their own hyperlocal/ public affairs journalism site. And Patch has been building sites in the surrounding suburbs. A few other hyperlocal efforts have started within city limits.

All of these places think that readers want information about their own backyard - news and information that is personalized to their neighborhoods and communities.

Do you think hyperlocal will save journalism?


Anonymous said...

Taisje Claiborne
I believe such a website would save journalism. Too often neighborhoods where minorities live are not accuratelt reported in the media. It always apears as if the Black neighborhoods encompass nothing but crime. Nevertheless, in having a hyperlocal site like this one, individuals within minority neighborhoods, as well as other neighborhoods would be able to broadcast real news that occurs within their community ... whether it's positive or negative.

Alexis Wright-Whitley said...

The idea of "saving journalism" is a little tricky. However, I believe that hyperlocal, such a Patch, has the ability to save the name of Journalism. As mentioned by Taisje and even Professor George in lecture, most of the news we hear about minority dominated neighborhoods is about deaths and crimes. Just today, a coworker of mine told me that she does not watch the news because everything on it is negative; there's nothing too look forward to when watching it anymore. I think that Patch is doing a good thing, and it will help people in the community as well as those outside to know all of the ins and outs, not just some one-sided, biased opinion. It would also be really nice to know what's going on in your own backyard.

Geo said...

Check out and see if they'll be covering any of those under-reported minority neighborhoods (the answer is no). They are pretty much going where they can find advertising dollars and readers with healthy spending habits.

Change your mind about hyperlocal at all?

- George
(the teacher who is skeptical of big corporations entering communities and acting like they're all about the community)

Lauren Haber said...

After hearing what Amy Webb had to say about Hyperlocal journalism last Tuesday, I do not feel that the movement will "save journalism". While I do like the concept of "Hyperlocal" journalism, I think that sites, blogs, and other online media specifically targeted towards small geographical areas need to organically arise from citizens in that area developing such things. As Webb explained, "think hyper-personal..think niche..." I personally much rather write about a niche area/subject than be confined to writing about a certain area code.

Shannon McDonald said...

Attended a Patch session at the Online News Association conference last month. AOL's take? Competition is good.

And it is, but I agree with George that it's no real service to the community to toss a corporation into a neighborhood (and yes, they're going where coverage -- and small local papers -- already exist) and call it a local publication.

Having done hyperlocal journalism on a couple different fronts, I don't think I'm saving anything, but I'm certainly trying to keep journalism from dying.

As to what Lauren said about preferring to cover a niche market -- I disagree. I guess it depends on how large the area of your geographic coverage is, but I've been able to cover various events/stories in my geographic reporting instead of only getting to cover music or sport, for example.

While hyperlocal coverage isn't really saving anything, it's a (relatively) new concept, so the discussion is bringing about action and change, both of which are needed right now.

Alexis Wright-Whitley said...

Ahh Professor George, I see it. I guess I just meant that the idea of hyperlocal is somewhat good. If I ran a hyperlocal cooperation, I would make sure to cover everything; I would probably be the only one working for it, because I don't care too much about the money. As you said in lecture today, we need to be able to change the way that journalism is going, so in the future, hyperlocal may be looked at in a different light, not just in theory but also in practice.

Jonathan said...

After reading Prof. Miller's comment, I'm a lot more skeptical, but I guess any hyperlocal coverage is better than none at all. I don't often get to see my neighborhood (Mayfair) in the news that much, as we're not a particularly well-off nor a particularly crime-ridden area.