Small town media idea: You asked, I typed

I love the reaction and discourse that’s developing around my community media idea. A big thanks to both Jim and Julie for bringing up some good discussion points in the comments.

Here’s a few of my thoughts on some of these points (paraphrased):

1.) “This isn’t investigation, it’s not breaking news and it’s not a third-party watchdog. This, simply, is not journalism.”

All true. This isn’t traditional journalism – and I probably shouldn’t even use the word journalism in relation to this idea.

But it’s born out of my frustration with existing media sources within these communities today. Shit, really, that tends to be called journalism because it’s printed on paper and has ads and photos and headlines and some quotes from folks.

But in reality, what exists today often not only fails to meet the aforementioned characteristics of journalism, but it also rarely bothers to simply tell people what is going on.

The real point here is, when you’re talking really small communities, great traditional journalism just isn’t much of an option. If we’re judging this idea against the journalism we studied and worked for and continue to fight for today, I can’t compete.

But we’re talking about communities that have no existing media substance. I’m suggesting giving them the tools and slowly building a conversation. Ultimately, encourage people to share their stories – because in these communities, if they don’t, who will?

2) OK – So it’s a new, strange media. But now you have the problem of convincing people to use it.

It certainly won’t happen overnight.

But by bringing together a few key content contributors, a pull could develop.

I’ve mentioned these before, but I’m thinking mayors, city council members, school superintendents, club leaders, religious officials…. People who have a direct impact on the community.

If you can give people a good and reliable reason to use it, they will. The pace of this adoption will largely depend on how starved the audience is for this content.

3) People abuse pretty things. If you build it, someone will try to hurt it. How do you keep the discourse clean?

Right now I don’t have a good answer here. It’s certainly a concern.

And if you’re selling this idea to a community, this will likely be the first question anyone asks.

If I were setting this up overnight for tomorrow, I’d probably hold all comments for review and develop a criteria for what constituted appropriate content.

This point will certainly take some further thought, but it can be done.

— Finally, some notes on this:

This isn’t good old-fashioned traditional media, but that’s not always a bad thing… because:

  1. It’s social. It builds community.
  2. It has the potential to establish direct communication between public officials and the communities they serve.
  3. Multi-media galore.
  4. It’s nimble, quick and damn cheap.

Thanks again for the great comments.

Good talk. See ya’ out there.


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