LocalNewser standupkid's dispatches from the frontlines of local news


eBay Launches Local News Online in Hawaii at Low, Low Rate of $19.99 a Month

There's no category on eBay for "local news," but Pierre Omidyar has settled on a price: $19.99 a month.

Omidyar's launching a local news site in Hawaii--it goes live today with an official launch set for next month--that focuses on community news and conversation. "Journalism plays a central role in the way democracy works, especially in this country," Omidyar told the Associated Press. "And our democracy doesn't work when journalism doesn't work."

How does he plan to make journalism work in Hawaii? He intends to charge twenty bucks a month for it.

For a $19.99 monthly charge (introductory offer of $4.99), Hawaii residents will have access to investigative local reporting, analysis, and conversation. "Reporter-hosts," the AP reports, will "post articles, interact with readers, provide frequent updates and host discussions."

Pierre Omidyar

Omidyar believes the site, Honolulu Civil Beat, will be a new model for local news that will work. "It's really critical to help find a way to do journalism that connects with ordinary citizens in a better way. I think that is what's been lacking. Because the industry has been preoccupied with its own decline, it hasn't had the opportunity to reinvent itself. As a new startup, we have the opportunity to reinvent that and bring journalism back into the center of conversation."

In an introductory message on the site today, Omidyar says he's building a "civic square."

"What does it mean to build a civic square? For us, it's about building a place where we can learn about and better understand our home, the challenges we face, and debate and discover ideas and strategies for moving forward."

The name, Civil Beat, Omidyar says, is meant to invoke both a civil and calm conversation ("Be You, Be Cool, Be Civil" goes the motto), as well as a team of journalists on the beat. "You might have guessed that this is all a bit of an experiment," he says. "We've never done this before, and we don't think anyone else has, either. Aside from the name Civil Beat, the whole idea of calling your reporters "reporter-hosts" is just one indication of how this is different. They're not just reporting the news--they're engaged in understanding and explaining the issues more deeply, and debating them with the community"

Now I can get behind the idea of reporters as reporters and "hosts" who engage, provoke, and keep people talking. It's just the question of whether people will pay ($4 or $20) for the privilege of engaging with those reporters.


The Future of Local News: Available Today. Watch this Space.

timthumb.phpIt's so easy in the run-and-gun world of local news to be far withdrawn from the academic and wonky talk of the future.  Especially now that you don't get to tool around in the station car with your photog trying to sneak off to the mall to get a little shopping done while "checking out a tip."  These days, your photog's got his own story to shoot, write and edit.

But trust me.  While the managers in your newsroom may be telling you it's belt-tightening time and that Action News will find a way to survive the bleak times and return to Number One, there's an army of creative media gurus (many with exactly no background in the Way We Do Things) who are redefining what local news may look like for consumers five years from now, ten years from now, or, in some spots, this afternoon.

In my tireless pursuit to keep you ahead of the curve whether you like it or not, I'll be rubbing elbows with these forward-thinkers today in New York, at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, where some of the brightest minds of new news modeling will gather at a forum--okay, a "HyperCamp" as the kids call conferences these days--entitled "New Business Models for (Local) News."

I'll report back to you here on what I discover.  But hey, in a get-your-feet-wet experiment in new news models, why not join me at the HyperCamp right now?  I'll be on Twitter and sending out the best stuff I can shoehorn into 140 characters.  Follow me at @standupkid for live updates through the day.  And I'd love to get your questions as well to direct to some of the smarty pants speakers.  (As soon as I know the hashtag for today's event, I'll tweet that)

I'd love to have some LocalNews readers with me for this.  It's our future that's on the table.  There's no reason not to get excited about it.  And since your news director insisted that you tweet all damn day, why not make it work for you?


Reporter Goes All Multiplatformy for a Chance to Cover Obama Inauguration

Yeah, I'm talking about me.  Look, I know I can write about multiplatform, convergence, hyperlocal and backpack journalism with the best of 'em.  And often, I'm harshly critical.  But to be honest, from my first day as a local tv newser, in Grand Junction, Colorado, I've never had to lug my own gear and shoot my own stuff.  I edited my own packages for a few years, but I was never, officially, a one man band.  

So tomorrow (actually, later this morning) I'm going to get a taste of the future.  (Or is it the past?  Or the present?  I get so confused lately as things in this business change so fast.)  A few days ago my news director asked if I'd like to cover the inauguration.  Now this was waaaaaay past the point of your standard have-a-hotel-room-and-sat-time-booked point.  I jumped with "yes" before I even knew the details.  Short version?  Ride up to DC on a bus with folks who want to witness history;  no hotel, no shower, not even a bag bigger than a ladies' handbag.  Just me, multiple layers, a coat, (hopefully, God-willing, a steady supply of decent coffee) and a laptop.  I'll Twitter and blog on the bus, and while I will have a solid, professional photographer with me, I'm bringing my old XL1S also.  

As much as I've criticized the cutbacks and convergence, I must admit I'm excited.  Not just your standard get to be there for the moment in history excitement, but the guerilla reporting excitement.  The "we don't need no stinking credentials for edit space" excitement.  Down and dirty, figure it out as we go along.  

I'll be Twittering and blogging throughout.  I hope to experiment with videoblog entries from the bus on our www.localnews.com

Washington Post Photo

Washington Post Photo



site.  I hope we can make this an ongoing conversation.  I only wish I was going into it on more than an hour's sleep (and that's if I get to sleep in the next ten minutes).

UPDATE:  tvnewser and webnewser report there will be other first time "guerilla" reporters on the Obama story:  ABC's JuJu Chang's "unwired" and ready to try a new way to report.  The story's here.


Is This the Inevitable Answer: A Steve Jobs for Local Newsers, and iTunes for News?

One of the first comments to come my way after the debut of localtvnews was the idea that the "here's your news, we picked the stories for you, and we're feeding it to you at 6" mentality just had to die.  Cable news proved that, largely spelling the end of the once mighty nightly network newscast.  Local news continues with the formula of morning, noon, evening and night as it fumbles around on the web searching for a winning formula.

David Carr may have the ultimate "a la carte" solution:  iTunes for news.  In a Monday morning post on nytimes.com, Carr devotes his The Media Equation column to the idea that beyond picking and choosing one's own news stories, according to what you are truly interested in (perhaps it's city hall, yes;  convenience store shootings, no--or, maybe, the other way around), the even more important solution to struggling local news operations is the business model:  you're going to have to pay for it.  "Free is not a business model," Carr quotes Craig Moffett of Bernstein Research.

As Steve Jobs revolutionized the world of music, perhaps someone will do the same for information--providing a platform for consumers to pick and choose exactly those stories they want to see, and are willing to pay for.  As local advertising giants like car dealers and department stores drastically scale back their spot TV spending, stations are suffering, cutting costs, and sending journalists packing.

Where's our Steve Jobs?



LA Says "Thanks for Having Us In" to Chatman

After 35 years at KNBC/LA, weekend anchor Furnell Chatman announced in a newsroom email, "I have decided to trade my weekend anchor chair and my weekday reporter's microphone for a seat along the Louisiana bayou and a mint julep."

LA Observed has reaction from KNBC News VP Bob Long:  "It's very much like Chat to act quickly after private reflection."


Welcome Aboard