The future of local newspapers (II)

Written on November 24, 2011 by Pedro Cifuentes in News

So yes… Newspapers keep losing buyers. And we had mentioned in our previous post the word hyperlocal

For some time now the term has been installed in the general journalistic vocabulary, particularly in the United States, to describe a community-oriented media, with clear boundaries, whose primary concern is to report on issues which affect the neighbourhood. The ecology of this new subgenre of journalism is particularly diverse, mixing professional journalists and independent bloggers (and blurring, sometimes, the limits between tangential genres like citizen or community journalism). Many of these sites appeared precisely to fill the void left by local newspapers that were forced to close as a result of two overlapping crises (financial and informational): in fact, the journalists who keep these media running are often those who lost their jobs in those formerly alive and successful newspapers. Other projects were born from understanding that the user, confronted with the remarkably uniform and excessive informative avalanche from the Internet, wants basically to learn things that will improve his or her life (whether it is cultural agenda, public services, religious service schedules, restaurants with special festivals or discos that open until late).

The future for a local newspaper that seeks to adapt to the greatest cultural revolution of the past 500 years seems to be using all the wonderful tools and advantages of the digital world, its magical extension of the battlefield, to deepen their own outlook, that specific one which no other media can offer. Allow journalists with more knowledge and experience, who have been training and growing over the years, to add value in blogs covering specific issues, even of a relatively small scope, but clearly useful for a large minority of readers who want to continue finding in their newspaper, either on paper or online version, accurate and relevant information that they will not find elsewhere. There is no doubt that a serious newspaper should include the most important stories that shape the agenda and public opinion in a given society or nation. But the fundamental difference, the truly valuable assett, will be the same as thirty years ago: to present (good) stories that do not appear in other media because, fundamentally, they use their time and resurces to do other things. And  will never write about a house in the neighborhood which has been robbed recently, the plans to remodel a small park or, why not, the reviews about the new restaurant of a small village nearby.


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