Richie asks my opinion of hyperlocal sites. I don’t spend much time reading them -– yet -– because I haven’t found any that focus on where I live, but they’re a growing part of journalism and they’re a welcomed addition to local coverage.
We can hope that professionalism guides the growth. There are questions about funding and the extent to which staffers can effectively keep such sites updated with relevant, substantive content, but there’s no question that hyperlocal sites conceivably can deliver great service in nurturing an informed public. More power to them, amateurs included. In fact, amateurs encouraged. No reason why they can't be just as effective as a pro. Amateur musicians, for instance, certainly demonstrate that possibility. Amateur journalists can, too. Go get 'em, amateurs. (But study libel and slander law.)
Is hyperlocal for real? Consider that eight hyperlocal media initiatives across the country have won New Voices grants and will get an infusion of as much as $25,000 in startup money over the next two years, according to a New Voices announcement yesterday. Read about it here. You’ll find a full list of recipients as well. Exciting stuff.
New Voices, according to its self-description, “is an initiative of J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism. J-Lab is an incubator for innovative, participatory news experiments and is a center of American University’s School of Communication in Washington, D.C. New Voices is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.” That’s heavy-duty support for tapping the Web’s potential as a source for credible news and information and the free flow of same that's essential for the republic to continue.