: I’m at Northwestern getting ready for the final presentation of the hyperlocal news project (go to GoSkokie.com). If appropriate, I’ll blog.
: The presentation of the Hyperlocal Citizens’ Media project — aka GoSkokie.com — was great.
My favorite part came at the end when fuddy-duddy, fuss-budgety, old journalism professors fretted about things that are wrong getting onto the web site. One was “scared as heck” and the other was actually “terrified.” One of them warned that a thousand people could be misinformed. It was all quite sensationalistic.
The students shrugged at all the whipped-up fears and quickly said that the community edits itself and corrects errors. And because this medium — at last — lets the people have proprietorship over content, they take pride in getting it right and in their reputations. “The end result,” said one student, “is an informed public reporting about what they know.” Another student said, “It is a means for enacting change democratically.” I raised my right-on! fist.
These journalism students were not in the least bit scared, terrified, or reluctant to question who is a journalist and what is news. Their definition came out loud and clear: If it informs the community and enables democracy, it’s good.
They found a half dozen other hyperlocal citizens’ media sites, including WestportNow.com, iBrattleboro.com, Fredericksburg.com, and LiveFromArlington.com. They put up software — Geeklog — to get it going. They went into Skokie to sell the site. And it took off, a bit slowly but then it gained altitude. They held a contest and got 100 people to register for the site, then 200. They added photos and video and audio. They created something real and plan to keep it going after school’s out.
Other students presented a product — web with a print companion — aimed at teens in the Quad Cities of Iowa for the newspaper publisher there (I’m not supposed to give away anymore than that because they’re giving the official presentation Friday). But at the end of it all, one (forward-thinking and not fuddy-duddy) j-prof saw something that tied both these presentations together: “It strike me,” he said, “how very narrow the landscape of mainstream journalism is.”
Not if these students have anything to do with the future of journalism.
I’m going to another presentation of the Hyperlocal project in downtown Chicago tonight and will be curious to see what the reaction of the j-pros is.