By Steve Outing
So often I see Internet entrepreneurs doing things that traditional news companies should be doing, but don’t most likely due to cultural issues that prevent thinking and acting outside the box. An example comes from Outside.in, which collects, filters and publishes links to local news from a variety of sources (including but not limited to local mainstream media websites).
If you choose, you can receive a twice-weekly e-mail summary of content that Outside.in has found specific to your location. (You give Outside.in your zip code.) Here’s a screen grab of the local-news alert I received this morning:
This is a really useful service, in that it recognizes that it’s not only my local newspaper that has information and news of interest to me, but all sorts of other websites and local blogs. As more people learn to geo-tag their content, Outside.in and similar sites will be able to find more locally relevant content to deliver to its subscribers.
You’ll notice that my Outside.in delivery above is pretty thin on content (though you can click the section headings to get to more on the Outside.in website). Right now there’s no way to control how much or what type of information I get in my e-mail, but that will come in time. So there’s still an opportunity for local news organizations — newspapers, TV news, radio outlets, online-only news operations — to create similar services themselves and do a better job before the entrepreneurial outfits like Outside.in zoom too far ahead to catch.
This advice fits in the larger theme of “get over yourself.” That means acknowledging and leading your readers and users to good sources of content outside of what your news organization produces. It means becoming more useful as an intelligent filter to the massive amount of content that’s available online.
News organizations have a choice: They can look to initiatives like Outside.in’s and mimic what they see, or reach out for partnership opportunities, leveraging the technology that others have already built. In addition to Outside.in, I’d encourage you to take a look at YourStreet.com. Both those companies have said that they want to talk to local media companies.
Also worth a look is Adrian Holovaty’s new Everyblock.com, which focuses on local data; it’s a slightly different model than Outside.in or YourStreet.com.