My father ran an alternative local newspaper while I was a kid in Salt Lake City. I would visit his work from time to time, and if I were really lucky, he would occasionally take me back to where they ran the presses. Other times I would sit and play with the movable-type letters in the office out front. Those experiences left a deep impression on me, I suppose.
I still think about local news a lot. And though I somewhat ironically may have personally play some role in bringing about their demise, I believe that a vibrant supply of truly local news and other civic information is vital for a healthy society.
In the below series, I explore what’s happened with the business of local news and look at what I believe are some promising signs of a potential renaissance in local news.
Featured Articles on Local News:
This is the first in a five-part-series on the decline, fall and possible renaissance of local news. In this first installment, I share key excerpts from a very interesting report on the state of local news by the Federal Communications Commission. The report is called “The Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age” and it’s not your typical government bureaucracy report.
The web’s unbundling of the local newspaper business model enable web-based businesses to cherry-pick the profitable pieces out of the local newspaper’s business model. When that happened, the flow of money for reporter salaries came under increased pressure and newsrooms across the US were slowly eviscerated.
The old business model for local news is deep in debt and essentially running on fumes. The notion of a truly mission-driven news entity is quite compelling and could paint a very different picture for news on a municipal level.
The new economics of local news distribution rests on linking and networking behavior, and that requires a whole new type of relationship with readers – one that treats them less like passive consumers and more like proactive partners in disseminating news.
Mobile devices will usher in a renaissance in local news. With Google, Facebook, Yelp and others building services to help us buy more local goods and services, there will be natural pressure for other kinds of location-based information and news as we layer millions of small posts, tags and comments onto our physical surroundings.
Newsprint image by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dfinnecy/87290915/