Hyperlocal: The project

Hyperlocal: The project

: I spent a couple of days in Evanston this week to work with Rich Gordon’s graduate class on a joint project that explores the potential of hyperlocal citizens’ content.

That link goes to the class’ blog and I encourage you to go read and add any helpful information — for example, to good examples of local citizens’ media. (Just please remember that this is the class’ blog, not mine, so there’s no need to go into Howard Stern rants there!)

The class picked one town — Skokie — and will investigate all the possible kinds of news they can find. I encouraged them to broaden the definition of news as much as they can. If it’s useful information to people in Skokie, it’s news.

They will also slice the community in many ways: politics, government, schools, sports, congregations, immigrant groups (they’ve found many Eastern Europeans, Filipinos, Indians, and Koreans). They will look at the kinds of information that may be available, what form it’s in, how it can be gathered, how valuable it is. And they’ll look at how this could be presented.

I’m one of many who believe that the real frontier of blogs and citizens’ media is local; it simply takes time before there is a critical mass of content and readers there. This project, we hope, will explore just how big this can grow, just how useful it can be.

I also believe this is critical to the future of the news business, for it provides new sources of news and information that news organizations just can’t afford to gather on their own; it provides new sources of marketing and advertising revenue; it builds a new relationship between newspapers and their communities and their citizens.

The course will continue through May and I expect big things of this smart and dedicated cadre of students; they are inventing the next generation of news. I’ll keep you informed as it moves along. Again, please do check into the class blog and help out if you have something interesting or useful to add to the comments (or leave it here and I’ll share it there, as I already have).