The big challenge around the trend for hyperlocal media coverage can be summarized with a simple sentence:
By limiting yourself to a geographic area you are by default creating a huge future challenge for growth for your product. But only by limiting yourself on a geographic area, can you really serve your community directly with a product you are creating. You demand attention.
My town, Olympia, 40k population in a tri-cities area of combined 120k with Tumwater and Lacey included is in so desperate need of so many things that could be covered by a good attention of local media on this town.
Media has always had two functions: First, the one of being a watch dog. The seemingly independent eye that’s keeping, especially and increasingly exclusively, politicians in check. Someone needs to report on the doings of our law makers.
The other function is this of being town booster for the community. This, as news media increasingly is run from far way corporate head quarters is an impossible task. Fewer feet are on the ground reporting on how the community feels and are telling it’s story.
The watch-dog part is fairly easy to do. In many ways local reporters don’t even show up to the meetings anymore. Watching them streaming or just reading the reports often seems sufficient to feed the demand by the public. I am not supporting this, but hey, considering the overall little interest in politics and the huge missing piece on the other. We have bigger fish to fry.
Now bloggers are starting up pop up on various occasions usually again, just sitting in their arm chair at home, and report on the lack of media coverage in the town. Well, it’s a good start to do something about your dissatisfaction with something and make your voice heard. But, not fill in the void? Why just bark at the tree?
A branding campaign for the city and the larger area.
We need help badly. Looking at the marketing slogans that are being created by out-of-town firms that have pity with us and create compromised work that is well, compromised. You can tell by looking at the design firms and ad agencies around town, that excellence in creativity is not something that is being valued on any scale. Material produced and overall idea execution is weak, embarrassingly weak sometimes.
A job postings page.
Whenever I talk to people that want to do something for Olympia I tell them, what Olympia needs more then anything is economic development. Sounds like a dry government job, and something that could and should be taken care of the huge selection of non-profits around that receive plenty of public funds for this sort of thing. But really is just a fancy word for entrepreneurial startup spirit and a community that understands to support and cheer on the people that risk it within their city limits.
If you look at the Craigslist postings for the area, you find simple, low-level sales and service jobs and the usual get-rich-quick scams.
If Olympia is suppose to rise up from this depressed slumber, it will not just recover, but reinvent itself.
Government jobs will return, but they will not give us anything but an atmosphere of business as usual.
We need to discover a new industry that we can embrace as a community. One that brings bring us jobs, dollars and let us prosper. Talents and this taste of the future you get when visiting big cities like Seattle and Portland.
Ideas, when implemented them with vision and creative skill have the ability to fundamentally transform our communities forever. Creating media, being a journalist is more than just covering what the traditional newspaper could be doing better. It’s starting a blog and writing. Reporting on stuff that happens. But it’s also creating tools, forums, outlets. Establishing a function the community can rely on and build upon. Local voices lift their surrounding up and help them reach the next level.