Why Lakeland Local?

By way of Empirical Polk, I read Mark Glaser’s “lessons learned” by hyperlocals. He hopes the eight points serve as guide for other hyperlocal bloggers. Let’s look at the list, shall we?

1. Serve as a model journalist and cheerlead for others to follow.
2. Ask not what the community can do for you; ask what you can do for the community.
3. Journalism is hard work.
4. Collaborate with and link to other local news outlets.
5. Barter and network in the community to save costs.
6. Meet face-to-face with the community to make a real-world impact.
7. You need a real crowd if you want to do crowdsourced journalism.
8. Take a long view on making the site a profitable endeavor.

Josh agreed with all, save the last, since he doesn’t run his site as a business. I completely agree. As a business, a hyperlocal blogger must exclude reporting on select items. While a newspaper has the resources to irritate the occasional advertiser, a hyperlocal blogger might not have that luxury.

I think Committee of Concerned Journalists’ Nine Elements of Journalism are also applicable:

1. Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.
2. Its first loyalty is to the citizens.
3. Its essence is discipline of verification.
4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.
5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power.
6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
7. It must strive to make the significant interesting, and relevant.
8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.
9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience.

I also believe hyperlocal publishers must make the process as transparent as possible. The idea that journalists have a completely neutral point of view is a myth. Who and what your cover is guided by your biases and concerns. Let your audience know if you have to answer to anyone. While I don’t have them listed as bullet points, here’s my personal statement:

Pertinent education and true change is accomplished only through intelligent and uncensored discourse. Governments, organizations, and relationships operate best when processes and discussions are transparent. That’s also how I operate Lakeland Local.

If you get to know me, you’ll find I sometimes have opinions and beliefs that are not shared by my family, friends or employers. While they may not agree with what I may publish, they agree that public discourse is important.

Every opinion on Lakeland Local is mine alone. Every story I decide to cover is my choice alone. I ask no friend, family member, or employer for information or opinions on what I choose to feature here. No friends, family members or employers have ever, or could ever, influence my decision to cover or not any topic on Lakeland Local.

Furthermore, I am not a member of any organization that I cover, or one that has any dealing with any organization or topic I may join.

Finally, every link I place on Lakeland Local either is pertinent to the post or contains information useful to Lakeland residents. I may or may not agree with everything found at that link. If you’re confused which is true, post a comment and I’ll clarify the issue.

In other words, if there is something here you dislike, you can blame me alone.