Monday, July 27, 2009

Provocative position on value of local news

Vin Crosbie, blogging at ClickZ, has written a provocative post with the headline, "End of an Admirable Fallacy: Local News."

"To be successful in this new millennium, the local newspaper or the local broadcast station must provide a fully interactive database delivering the basics of the moment's weather and forecast, road and commute information, complete local entertainment and dining information, local school sports scores and menus, and the like.

"Investigative stories are worthy and always need to be done, but newspapers and local news broadcasters must first give people comprehensive information and data -- including access to all the source data, be that the town government's reports or each restaurant's daily menu. Only then should local journalists consider writing stories."

While I don't necessarily agree with everything Crosbie writes, I think he raises an important issue. I think too many journalists still don't accept the importance of a local site acting as a trusted resource for its community. News may not in the end be the financial driver for a local Web site. It may be what establishes and reinforces the value of the brand. But revenue may need to be derived from other sources. Second, local sites may need to be part of larger networks, making it possible for them to produce deep local reports with much smaller staffs than anybody used to working in a newspaper newsroom is used to. These aren't comfortable concepts. But they're worth discussing.

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