The Future of Local News

I just read a post from LondonTopic.ca(see: Curtain Call?), outlining the independent news site’s downfall. Going beyond his family issues, and while I’m sure his heart was in the right place, maybe it was just bad timing. It was a concept that would have been big 10 years ago, but may be past its prime now.

We’re seeing large news networks slowly crumble, laying off people who have been in the public eye for years. There are regional stations being taken off the air, creating a lack of purely local news. As much as I like CNN for world news, they don’t tell me what’s happening down the street.

With more and more people online and using social media, the next step is obvious. We don’t need another website with a handful of reporters. Its clear that that concept won’t work.

What we are going to see in the future is up-to-the-second social reporting. This does have issues, especially with finding reliable facts (see: Gordon Lightfoot is Not Dead), but imagine a report filed by 10 people(for accuracy), as soon as something happens, with real-time updating. This goes beyond news broadcasting at 6pm every night. With Twitter and Facebook, we know when things happen almost as they are happening. It just depends on who you follow, and how they are involved.

So can this be the future of news? Can London (or any other city), be converted into social-based news? We can still have the News at 6, giving a good rundown on what happened, but knowing that news is happening instantly has more of a pull to the online generation.

Once we figure out the glitches of a social news network, local news could be more direct, local and up-to-date. Maybe this is what could be the next LondonTopic.ca, with the same idea of bringing pure local news, but just in a different, social media format.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

9 Comments

  1. Good points
    March 1, 2010

    There is no credibility in “social media” news reporting. It happens time and time again…look at Gordon Lightfoot. There have been various examples of how “unreliable” social media has been “delivering” the news as of late — well, it’s not reliable and never will be. So I tend to disagree that this is where local news reporting is headed and if it is, I will stop reading news altogether. Credible, responsible, accountable news must be created at all levels from local to international. And that takes professionals to deliver that content — reporters, editors and publishers — professionals. Anything less is not believable and can not be trusted. So the basic daily community news model of LondonTopic needs to be nurtured and maintained or news worldwide will not be worth the screen it’s published on.

  2. Good points
    March 1, 2010

    There is no credibility in “social media” news reporting. It happens time and time again…look at Gordon Lightfoot. There have been various examples of how “unreliable” social media has been “delivering” the news as of late — well, it’s not reliable and never will be. So I tend to disagree that this is where local news reporting is headed and if it is, I will stop reading news altogether. Credible, responsible, accountable news must be created at all levels from local to international. And that takes professionals to deliver that content — reporters, editors and publishers — professionals. Anything less is not believable and can not be trusted. So the basic daily community news model of LondonTopic needs to be nurtured and maintained or news worldwide will not be worth the screen it’s published on.

  3. Justin
    March 1, 2010

    I hated Londontopic.ca – thought it was awful. I think they made the worst mistake that many young companies make of going on Dragon’s Den and looking awful while doing it. That’s probably the biggest lesson. That and as with any business, do something to be different, to fill a void or niche.

    I think/hope that this isn’t the end of local news but rather the end of news sites that try to replicate what other brands/media outlets already do. That was one of the big issues with the site – it didn’t specifically provide anything that I couldn’t already find anywhere else. Like it or not, the Free Press has a longstanding presence in London and LondonTopic just seemed to provide the same thing.

    There is a void in London and it can’t be replaced by Tweets. Tweets are two short to provide anything beyond a sound-bite and often when stories link to blog posts, the posts lack any kind of journalistic standards (my own perhaps included.) But, in my opinion, we still need to have access to in-depth coverage of local issues of importance. LondonTopic didn’t really provide that either. For instance, where are deeper discussions of local policy decisions?

    I think Social Media will play a key role in these new forms of media but really hope we’re not dumbing it down too much! btw – Great post!

  4. Justin
    March 1, 2010

    I hated Londontopic.ca – thought it was awful. I think they made the worst mistake that many young companies make of going on Dragon’s Den and looking awful while doing it. That’s probably the biggest lesson. That and as with any business, do something to be different, to fill a void or niche.

    I think/hope that this isn’t the end of local news but rather the end of news sites that try to replicate what other brands/media outlets already do. That was one of the big issues with the site – it didn’t specifically provide anything that I couldn’t already find anywhere else. Like it or not, the Free Press has a longstanding presence in London and LondonTopic just seemed to provide the same thing.

    There is a void in London and it can’t be replaced by Tweets. Tweets are two short to provide anything beyond a sound-bite and often when stories link to blog posts, the posts lack any kind of journalistic standards (my own perhaps included.) But, in my opinion, we still need to have access to in-depth coverage of local issues of importance. LondonTopic didn’t really provide that either. For instance, where are deeper discussions of local policy decisions?

    I think Social Media will play a key role in these new forms of media but really hope we’re not dumbing it down too much! btw – Great post!

  5. aaron
    March 1, 2010

    @ Justin:

    I agree with you on the LondonTopic thought. It lacked a community involvement, and really was just another basic online news source.
    I also agree that Tweets are too short to be a full news story. We just need to figure out a way to take instant news messages (from whatever source) and create real news out of it.
    Maybe this involves taking tweets, based on a common hashtag and compiling news from them, but keeping the ongoing real-time news as well.
    Its a tough road to go down, but I do believe this is the future. Someone just has to figure out how to make it work.
    Thanks for the comments!

  6. aaron
    March 1, 2010

    @ Justin:

    I agree with you on the LondonTopic thought. It lacked a community involvement, and really was just another basic online news source.
    I also agree that Tweets are too short to be a full news story. We just need to figure out a way to take instant news messages (from whatever source) and create real news out of it.
    Maybe this involves taking tweets, based on a common hashtag and compiling news from them, but keeping the ongoing real-time news as well.
    Its a tough road to go down, but I do believe this is the future. Someone just has to figure out how to make it work.
    Thanks for the comments!

  7. aaron
    March 1, 2010

    @ Good Points:

    The problem that I have is that even ‘professional’ news organizations make mistakes and don’t always report the real news (eg: Canwest Global Communications’s report on Lightfoot). We put trust in these outlets and they aren’t always right.
    What I’m suggesting is that if more than one people report on something via social media(not just relaying news but creating their own on the same topic), then it could be seen as confirmed, and real news. Just my ideas though, nothing more.

  8. aaron
    March 1, 2010

    @ Good Points:

    The problem that I have is that even ‘professional’ news organizations make mistakes and don’t always report the real news (eg: Canwest Global Communications’s report on Lightfoot). We put trust in these outlets and they aren’t always right.
    What I’m suggesting is that if more than one people report on something via social media(not just relaying news but creating their own on the same topic), then it could be seen as confirmed, and real news. Just my ideas though, nothing more.

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