Media Criticism Spring 2012

Part 1: Deconstructing Super Bowl Ads

The Rebirth of Local News – How Hyperlocal News Sites Are Helping

Posted on | April 25, 2012 | No Comments

As I’ve written before, newspapers have been closing their print editions or closing their doors forever. Local newspapers have been hit the hardest by the Internet age. Fear not though, the same element that has led to the closing of local newspapers has also led to its rebirth in the form of Internet startups.

 

Image from: us.macmillan.com

In an interesting twist, author Ken Doctor noted in his book Newsonomics that the larger local news companies are looking for ways to downsize while local news startups are looking for ways to expand. With newsroom cutbacks on the rise, this is no surprise. According to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, 20% of news executives have said that their staff is too small to do more than the minimum level of reporting. What does this mean for local news? It gets cut, not only in larger papers but in smaller ones as well.

 

Internet startups are “filling the void” left behind by newspapers that no longer cover neighborhood news. These startups are generally independent and create communities that are being noticed by metro newspapers. In turn, these newspapers are beginning to partner up with the independent sites in order to cover more for less.

 

In the end, it is up to the reader to choose whether or not they need or even want their local news fix. Their choice to read hyperlocal news sites or independent Internet startups can be related back to the Uses and Gratification Theory. The Uses and Gratifications theory tries to explain why people use a certain form of the media. The theory goes on to state that people will choose certain forms because they believe it has a limited effect on them i.e. the audience member/consumer can control over the media they choose. With independent startups, readers have their choice of both local and national news, thus giving them not only control over what they read but how they read it as well.

 

Image from: theihs.com

I think that independent startups are a great way to preserve local news. Partnerships with metro papers in the area can lead to more traffic for both and more stories. However, I am concerned that some readers may stumble upon very biased blog posts about local news stories. It is very important (to me at least) that these independent startup sites for local news are run by professional journalists or someone with knowledge of the news industry as a whole.

 

Sources:

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

 

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