Wednesday, 6 May 2009

800 new community websites show the way ahead

Can hyperlocal community sites offer a future for journalists, and reliable news for communities? There is evidence that the answer to both questions can be yes. Here’s a round up of current evidence and discussion.

Webcrawler at reports that “at least 800 community news web sites have popped up since 2004, according to Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism.

“'The sites often do a better job at covering community news than large newspapers did, even before the papers started to collapse,' she said.”
Jan promises to keep tabs on what she calls these New Media Makers here

And offers a link to more on community sites as discussed in the New York Times

Webcrawler also quotes Jane McDonnell, executive director of the Online News Association,
saying that “ the hyperlocal movement places emphasis on community news that’s written by volunteers who usually are entrenched in their neighborhoods".

She sees signs sites are beginnign to train their volunteers: “Some non-profit news sites train their volunteers so they have a basic understanding of how to get the facts right and how to report fairly on controversial issues before they publish stories." in Illinois employs four journalists but is in the process of training 350 neighbourhood volunteers, said Geoff Dougherty, the publication’s editor. Because they’re embedded in the communities they write about, they find news the mainstream press would never hear about, he said. In one example, a volunteer reporter broke news of police brutality.”

And Village Soup is showing a profit.

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