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Could local news outlets use search engine technology instead of citizen journalists to create hyperlocal news? 12/5/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Hyperlocal news, SearchEngines.
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In the dark cloud of the collapse of established news outlets, there is a silver lining for local newspapers and TV stations. The bad news is that audiences are beginning to shun local news outlets for national and international news, instead seeking the best national talent over the web. The good news is that when local outlets finally recognize that hyperlocal news is their only way out and get serious about it, they will find a pleasant surprise — their audiences will be more grateful than ever because this news more directly affects their lives, is less likely to have a persistent center-left bias, and is unavailable anywhere else.

Unfortunately, Old Media journalism culture is naturally resistant to hyperlocal news. Local stories are not as “glamorous” as national and international stories for those who entered journalism to “change the world.” Newspapers will want to avoid investing in in-depth coverage of a multitude of communities at a time when they are cutting costs and staff to survive. And, efforts to make hyperlocal reporting affordable by engaging un- or low-paid amateur “Citizen Journalists” are offensive to journalists’ egos, and diminish the quality of the news product.

Former newspaper executive, venture capitalist, and self-styled “Newsosaur” Alan D. Mutter has an intriguing solution that might help — marry the strengths of emerging search engine technology to the local knowledge and archive assets of local news outlets to create a variety of highly customized hyperlocal news services. These services might include personalized news by community, links to historical articles as background, the lowest prices at nearby stores, historical high school sports statistics, and a variety of other services limited only by the imagination. Emerging technologies that help search engines think more like humans will enable this, he contends. Pretty good thinking from an old, but not ordinary newsosaur, whose career shift suggests he knew years ago that the meteors were on their way.

Comments»

1. Ydobon - 12/6/07

A comment on the Newsosaur article by Scott Lawton (Blogcosm), “It wouldn’t work due to some combination of half-hearted efforts on their part and over-promised, under-delivered results on the tech side.

Compare that prescient remark to what actually happened to the BBC with the iPlayer.

Why is the iPlayer a multi million pound disaster?

The story of the BBC’s iPlayer is of a multi-million pound failure that took years to complete, and was designed for a world that never arrived. More was spent on the project than many Silicon Valley startups ever burn through, but only now can we begin to piece together how this disaster unfolded.

Newspapers can’t exploit the existing World Wide Web. They’re unlikely to able to select and develop the appropriate next generation technology to save them instead.

Steve Yelvington offers another approach.

“Quit blaming the Internet. There’s nothing wrong with paper. It’s your journalism that isn’t relevant.”

“I’ve previously described how newspapers don’t have an online revenue problem, but rather an online audience problem. Just to put a point on it: I spent today with yet another newspaper new-media director whose biggest problem is sold-out ad inventory. The site needs people and pageviews.”

Read the whole thing.

2. Search Engine Optimization Direct » Blog Archive » Could local news outlets use search engine technology instead of … - 1/7/08

[…] Mary Stewart article is brought to you using rss feeds.Here are some of the top articles on search engine optimization.Mutter has an intriguing solution that might help — marry the strengths of emerging search engine technology to the local knowledge and archive assets of local news outlets to create a variety of highly customized hyperlocal news … […]


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