Posted by: Ciaran | February 6, 2010

What is news?

Another quick blog of more journalism-related thoughts having been out in my patch today.  I was discussing with an excellent food blogger the other day how one of the main problems in newsgathering at a local level – when you’re working a patch, as I am at the moment – is making people realise that what they’re interested in or aggrieved about is news.

I’ve almost lost track of the number of people in the past week who have said to me “No, I don’t think there’s anything much interesting” and then followed it up by telling me something important.  The challenge for hyperlocal blogs, then, in my limited experience in the sphere, is making people realise that their concerns about the minutaie of their daily life – why they were woken by sirens in the middle of the night or why they now have t0 pay to park in their own street – is the essence of local news.

Maybe local newspapers can undergo a renaissance if they really get into the grassroots of community journalism, although this would then create the difficulty of providing equal coverage to each area.  I’m not sure it’s in any way a solution, but after a week of telling people that things they think I won’t care about are exactly the sort of things I’m interested in hearing then maybe it’s a step in the right direction.

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Responses

  1. Whilst I might not be overly concerned with why neighbours are irritated by the flickering street light at the end of their road, or bothered by somebody who lost their purse and is publicly thanking the “nice man that returned it to their owner”, I do confess to enjoying reading my local newspaper. There are bigger community issues that are worthy of discussing and a local rag is a great way to communicate them to the individuals that they affect directly. Despite news being available online, on the radio and digital TV with channels dedicated to the news, there’s most certainly still a place for local newspapers. As you say, community journalism gets to the heart of what’s going on and, more often than not, it’s what people are interested in, particularly when such issues affect everyday living.

    I don’t pretend to know anything about journalism per-se but once a week I afford myself the luxury of sitting down with a cup of tea to read about my town, the area and its people.

  2. Maybe creating a culture of sharing what’s going on would help? I.e. give the community a way to talk to each other about their concerns. Of course, if you’re out there in your patch presumably you’ll be building the kind of relationships that help you to do just that. That goes some way to allay the concerns that Jim Cowan (@hypercelt) referred to.


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