Archive for the ‘Hyperlocal’ Category

Combining Multimedia and Citizen Content For Greater Context

Courtesy FDNY

This article in the Valley Independent Sentinel is an example of how multimedia elements (and citizen journalism) helped take a simple local story and add context and emotion.

The Valley Independent Sentinel is an online-only hyper local news site in Connecticut. (Full disclosure: I helped launch the site in 2009.)

The news site has done a great job keeping ahead of the social media and multimedia trends in journalism — and forcing competitors in the area to get on board.

This week, editor Eugene Driscoll was faced with a fairly common story for local newspapers: A group of students collected donations for people affected by Hurricane Sandy in Rockaway, Queens.

It’s easy for local reporters to decide these stories are monotonous, and react by banging out some standard, boring 8-inch story about the donation drive.

But Eugene Driscoll took another approach, using Storify and citizen journalists to help add context to the story.

Driscoll created a Storify that detailed the damage in Rockaway, and the school’s efforts to get support via social media. One of the tweets is posted below.


And he embedded a video produced by a friend of a Rockaway resident that shows exactly what was going on there after the storm. The creator of the video is not a journalist, but what he did here was a form of journalism.

He combined these aspects with the standard 8-inch story about the donation drive. The result was a much more compelling piece.

How have you used multimedia, social media and citizen contributions to bolster commonplace reporting? Share links to some examples in the comments section.

Jodie Mozdzer Gil is an assistant professor of multimedia journalism at Southern Connecticut State University. She previously reported for the Valley Independent Sentinel, the Hartford Courant and the Waterbury Republican American. You can follow her on Twitter @mozactly.

What’s SoLoMo, and what does Banjo have to do with journalism?

Came across this post, “Banjo CEO: Location Is Key for Social Apps” from Street Fight today, one of my daily must-read sites that covers the hyperlocal news and media space.

I’m interested in the growth (and coming explosion) of what’s already being called “SoLoMo” — the technology-driven intersection of Social, Local and Mobile media. That could include news or advertising, or innovative ways to get daily deals (your mobile buzzes with a text message when you approach a pizza place that is putting slices on sale for $.25 each!) to easy ways to find the closest hardware store when you’re in a neighborhood you don’t know very well.

SoLoMo is all about content and interactions that are keyed to your location, via the GPS in your mobile phone or device. At its most basic, SoLoMo is when you check in to a restaurant on Foursquare or Facebook.

Why is it important for journalists to know about SoLoMo?

Because it’ll be a big part of the future of media, including news media. The Street Fight interview with the founder and CEO of Banjo, one of the hottest new location-based mobile social apps (I guess that would be LoMoSo…), asks the question of how Banjo and SoLoMo applies to journalism:

The news is already starting to use Banjo. A couple of weekends ago I had CNN on, on a Saturday, and one of the reporters was using Banjo to report on the Trayvon Martin case in Florida. He said with Banjo he could go there and he could actually search by the keyword “Trayvon” and he knew every person that was showing up, whether it was Twitter or Instagram or whatever the case may be, was talking about Trayvon and was actually in Sanford, Florida, and was therefore highly relevant.

Another news channel was using it to report on the weather where there were tornados. They couldn’t get to the affected area right away, but they could go there with Banjo.

Download Banjo on your phone and check it out, willya? It’s available for iPhone and Android. Try it, and if you don’t find a use for it, delete it. At least you know about it and how it works, and won’t be out of the loop as it becomes more and more popular.

It’ll be increasingly important as we embrace the digital-first imperative that some companies are espousing, to stay on top of new developments and cool new apps and tools that can help us be better journalists. Even if you choose not to use some of these new tools, it’ll help your career to be familiar with them.

The SPJ’s Digital Media Committee will help you keep up with the ever-evolving media technology, both here on the Net Worked blog and in the Quill column.

Stay tuned…

Checking the pulse: Is hyperlocal news a failed business model?

According to NetNewsCheck, panelists at a conference in Boston think that hyperlocal news, at least so far, is a failed business model.

I can’t disagree, but I’m not buying their negativity either.

I believe the future of media is to be digital, and local, local, local. But so far, the national companies that are trying (or have tried) aren’t bringing in the revenues to sustain the growth they need, and only a few of the local blog-type operations have been notable successes. I think we’re still looking for the right product at the right time.

The panelists are right in that the focus has been so far on content, and not enough thought’s been put into revenue. But being from the content side myself, I think you need a solid track record of good journalism — strong content — to attract an audience, and that’s when you can monetize your content.

One development’s worth watching, though, is the ad network idea that Main Street Connect is pushing. It makes sense that if you’re in one town or neighborhood, you’d like to see ads from businesses in the next town, or two towns over. That way ads have larger reach if they’re visible on contiguous communities’ news sites. (The converse is why major metro dailies don’t have ads for mom-and-pop shops: Why pay a lot of money for an ad in the big paper if it’s delivered to homes 40 miles away in a suburb where people will never visit your shop?)

It may be uncomfortable to discuss advertising with journalists, but this is stuff we all need to be aware of, because it’s the key to our future careers.

Ultimately, I think — and hope — that newspapers can still claim that “hyperlocal” audience, both with content and advertising. We might have to share the space with a local blogger, or even a Patch site or two or more. But newspapers, especially the small-town press, have historically held the local readership close and those readers trust their newspaper as their main source of information. It’s the large metro dailies that will face the biggest challenge because they’re trying to be all things to all people over a much bigger area. Maybe it’s time for them to shave off slices of their market and create “hyperlocal” products to serve smaller geographic areas (The Denver Post’s YourHub is the oldest such experiment out there, although it’s managed by a silo’ed staff instead of the Post newsroom journos).

Just some thoughts spurred by this morning’s article about hyperlocal business models.

What do y’all think?


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