Tuesday, September 1, 2009

In a galaxy far, far away . . .

The irony of “hyperlocal” news coverage is how valuable it can be for people who don’t live anywhere near it.
(I learned this the hard way. Humble pie, anyone? There’s plenty to go around in this industry.)
I’m a full-time reporter/photographer/videographer/copy editor/page designer at a daily newspaper — a link in a corporately owned Canada-wide chain. We’re trying to call ourselves “media outlets” to give the impression we’re fresh and exciting compared to our pulp and paper past.
Here’s the rub: We fill our website with articles, photos and videos from other “media outlets” in the chain. What little online local content we offer gets lost in the shuffle. I call that “hypo” journalism.
Recently, we posted a truly local story late in the day, and I rolled my eyes at the subject matter. A reunion? Not exactly Woodward and Bernstein.
While my nose was in the air, I failed to see this was a milestone local event. People who lived far away relied on our website for photos and information. I know this because they posted online comments.
I have to guess their families clicked on us, too, along with local residents, and people who did attend and wanted to see how the media covered it. This piece brought thousands of hits to our website that day.
I’m a big believer in regularly updating media websites with “hyperlocal” truly local news, and I never underestimate the importance of serving an online audience.
But I learned a valuable lesson that day. Local news doesn’t just serve a local audience. People with ties to our city rely on us to keep in touch and stay informed. Their web hits are just as valuable for digital journalism to thrive.

The Hyper Journalist


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