: 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.

  • sbw

    One local newspaper publisher’s opinion: Love it!

  • Hello, One of our graduate students in e-Media (interactive communications) at Quinnipiac University has created a media site for her town in Connecticut. Please visit it when you get a chance. It is routinely scooping legacy media (i.e., the Hartford Courant). Quinnipiac is located in Hamden, Conn. We offer graduate programs in journalism and interactive communications …

  • John Edwards

    Sounds like a fascinating project, Jeff, and I’m glad to see my alma mater remains at the cutting edge of journalism education. I graduated from Medill in ’92 (undergrad), and for my final senior project I had to write a design study for a newspaper that took advantage of new technologies and design techniques. I came up with a quality tabloid called The City Light (named after the one in The Bonfire of the Vanities), which included some refers to more information available via computer (since we weren’t quite saying “online” then). Anyway, that was a fun little effort, and it’s great that today’s students are taking advantage of the blog format in an exciting way.

  • Hi, I’m the webmaster of Live From Arlington. Just wanted to chime in that I had a fair amount of communication with the students who put together goskokie.com, and in fact they got turned onto geeklog after seeing Live From Arlington. Geeklog is pretty good software — we like it!