More thoughts on the future of journalism
FastCompany this month published, “Hyper-local Hero,” about multimedia journalist Rob Curley. (Make sure you check out Curley’s response to the article.) It produced for me an epiphany regarding where online journalism is headed, one of those rare moments of clarity and excitement and fear. First the clarity.
Chuck Salter’s story on Curley, “a nerd from Kansas” who has helped newspapers transition to online with dramatic results, has me returning to notions of locality, albeit in new, distributed contexts. A few Xs and Os from Curley’s playbook:
>>Make your site so cool and important to people that they talk about it they way they talk about having a great park near where they live . . . a local amenity.
>>Develop an uncanny feel for what matters to people and translate that knowledge into imaginative, indispensable tools that forge a connection and habit with readers.
>>Drill down, way down. There is no such thing as overkill. There is always room for more detail, more depth. Hyperlocality. Small “j” journalism. Faits divers. For us here in the Northwest hills of Georgia, where there is no local TV station, this would mean high school football, local politics, cycling and churches. Lots and lots and lots of it. (As Curley points out in his response, this doesn’t mean forgoing enterprise pieces or big “J” journalism; it does mean knowing what “local” means to your publication and out-localing everyone else.)
>>And one not in Curley’s playbook but fairly obvious: embrace social networking. YouTube, MySpace, FaceBook, filesharing, blogs, Flickr . . . All are about social networking, mingling, connecting and sharing. Participation, conversation and interaction. This is the new ethos, a communal ethos. It has little to do with the command-and-control, top-down, “trust us” model of mainstream news media. It is exciting. Thrilling. It is the future, and the future is now, which is where the fear comes in.