I, Conversationalist

First it was in the Tampa Tribune, and now Sticks of Fire has weighed in on the future of journalism. Check out both pieces. Tommy Duncan’s response is particularly insightful.

Of course, I have a thought or two on the subject….

You are reading a news site. Oh, I sometimes call it a blog. More often, I’ll use the term hyperlocal. But, no matter the name, I am performing a similar service as owner/editors have since the printing press was made widespread. I’m publishing news.

For a long time newspapers were the news, and then radio and television fractured the audience. Hyperlocal publishers are bringing the circle back to its start. We’re making all news local again. The key difference is the reader has changed. You’re not dependent on a single source as you were in the days off the old west. You get your news from almost every item you touch — your radio, tv, computer, phone, and even your gas pump now gives news.

So why read the newspaper? Well, for the most part you can trust they follow a set of standards. They may not have the same political bent as you, but who does? Personally, I believe by the time my daughter reaches college she’ll never touch newsprint. Still, she’ll still read the newspaper/newssite that best collates the days news and adds value with incisive commentary, and editorial voice.

Newspapers are releasing their journalists from the office and giving them a loose leash to cover the news in their community. I believe that trend will continue and expand. And then there are people like me. I was a paid journalist working for a chain. Now, I’m a freelance writer working for myself.

I believe newssites will eventually get a sizable part of their coverage from people in my situation. We’ll cover some piece of the world and newssites will pick up our work. More often, journalists will skip the middle man and sell their work directly to the readers.

That said, the most important part of the changing world of journalism is that we all have access to a bully pulpit. That means journalists and readers have become one gordian knot of opinion, editorialist, reporter, and reader. In the hyperlocal world, we call that a conversation.

One I’m happy to be engaged in with you.