Dog bites man IS news

By Steve Outing

This is a great quote, by Dan Gillmor (via a Twitter post by Dan Pacheco):

OK, perhaps the second sentence is paraphrased, but I really like it. “‘Dog bites man’ is newsworthy if you know the man, or dog,” so nicely sums up what I’ve been thinking for some time about what many have termed “hyper-local” journalism.

Yes, dog bites man, or 5th-grader hits winning home run, or woman wins teacher of the year award at Smith Elementary are boring items to nearly everyone — but not to the people involved and the people who know them. For the latter group, it’s important stuff.

We now have the technology available online (and for mobile devices) to deliver that boring-to-everyone-but-me stuff to the right people. We don’t need to produce a weekly give-away print product filled with boring dog-bites-man stuff, because we can deliver it to the people for whom it’s important, interesting, and vital — and not bore everyone else.

To critics of hyper-local news or “citizen journalism,” I will argue that it can be powerful stuff when and only when it’s targeted well. I can envision a future — and I look forward to it — when services are available to send me news on my smartphone letting me know that the guy down the street got bit by a dog.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

3 Responses to "Dog bites man IS news"

  1. Digidave
    Digidave 9 years ago .Reply

    More than that. Jay Rosen followed it up by noting that right now – newspapers aren’t able to respond to the desire for the news at that granularity.

    The story might be about “schools” but the parents want news on THEIR kids school.

    Somewhere there is a disconnect.

  2. Steve Outing
    Steve Outing 9 years ago .Reply

    Digidave: Right, that’s newspapers’ flaw right now. There’s all this fine-grain local stuff out there (on blogs, school sites, from non-profits, etc.) that they need to tap. It’s there to leverage, but they need to build the systems to deliver it to the people who care.

    This fits in with API’s Newspaper Next 2.0 vision of newspaper company as local information and connection utility. Newspapers need to make some progress toward getting there.

  3. Dan Gillmor
    Dan Gillmor 9 years ago .Reply

    Steve, to give credit where due: This came out of a semi-public conversation where several folks, including Gordon Crovitz of the Wall Street Journal, were talking about how journalism was evolving.

    We were observing how the old notion that dog bites man wasn’t news is no longer true if the person who got bit was someone you know. Gordon added, “Or if it’s your dog” — a line the broke up the audience.

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