By Steve Outing
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.