LocalNewser standupkid's dispatches from the frontlines of local news

20Apr/110

The Smartest Job in Local Media: The Curator. Hey, The Register Citizen‘s Doing It, Why Shouldn’t You?

Matt DeRienzo

Add the name Matt DeRienzo to the list of forward thinking journalists who refuse to let local media--especially print--fade into obscurity.

DeRienzo's the publisher of The Register Citizen, a small town paper in Torrington, Connecticut. And he's just appointed Jenny Golfin, who's been reporting and working the paper's website, as the Register's first ever full-time curator. Yep, taking a page from NPR's outrageous success defining a new kind of journalism through curating news as it happens--through tweets, TwitPics, videos, Facebook posts and lots of links--DeRienzo wants to bring that to his paper, an Andy Carvin for small town America.

As he explained it to readers, Golfin will be free to link to anybody--even what used to be known as "the competition." Her beat, unlike Carvin's exceptional work covering uprisings in Egypt, Libya and beyond, will be a lot closer to home: "content relevant to Northwest Connecticut communities and to niche interests including moms from Litchfield County, local and statewide politics and local arts and entertainment."

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31Jul/090

SlimeWatch, Part 3: What Local Stations Can Learn from NPR's New Website

6a00d83451b26169e201053659b16a970c-800wiNPR.org doesn't exactly grab you by the shoulders and scream "cutting edge!" At least, not yet. But give it time.

One thing that is clear is this:  the thinking behind the radio giant's redesign is advanced, and should be studied by every local television station manager and web team--at least the ones that intend to survive as employees of viable, profitable businesses.

For NPR, the new thinking goes like this:  kinda, sorta, start not really focusing so much on the "R" in NPR: "This is an organization that's in transformation into becoming a fully functional news content organization, not just a radio company," said NPR's Vivian Schiller in an interview with Newsweek.  Schiller's the force behind one of the most powerful news sites on Earth--nytimes.com--but she left the Times six months ago to join NPR and get the old school org all multiplatformy and stuff.

As Newsweek's Johnnie Roberts wrote, "For Schiller, that means building on NPR's reputation as a broadcaster of national and international news, by extending its reach into local news. She plans on relying more on local member stations to fill what she sees as a "scary" void in local coverage as hometown daily newspapers fold."

Supporting local coverage is obviously something most localnewsers can get behind.  Unless, of course, that means a network, like NPR, or NBC for that matter, coming in an bypassing its local station to do the local work itself. And NPR's new model, as Schiller's old shop The New York Times noted, "would make it easier than ever to find programming from local stations, (it) will also make it much more convenient for listeners to bypass local stations, if they choose."

NBCChicago:  No Worries for NBC-Owned WMAQ.  But Boston, Tampa, Vegas?

NBCChicago: No Worries for NBC-Owned WMAQ. But Boston, Tampa, Vegas?

This is exactly the threat, as I've argued, that NBC's "Locals Only" effort poses to NBC affiliates who don't choose to accept NBC's terms to do business on a local level.  GE's already laid the groundwork by buying up domains from coast to coast that would allow the network to instantly be in the local online news business (as "NBC Boston," for example) and bypass entirely another "NBC" entity in the same city. Welcome to the Wild West, folks, where allegiances may shift depending on who's got better firepower, stronger horses, and cash.

Speaking specifically of NPR's aggressive move into multi-platform news growth online, Jake Shapiro, the executive director of Public Radio Exchange, a group that supports local radio stations, told the Times, “That’s the risk. It increases the pressure for stations to offer compelling and distinct programming."

As Schiller told the Times, NPR's revamped website isn't about offering National Public Radio a presence online, and certainly it's not an effort to drive ears to NPR stations.  The new model reverses all of that, taking NPR's website “from being a companion to radio to being a news destination in its own right,” Ms. Schiller said.

The Web's News Giants Smell Money in Your Backyard.  You Ready to Compete?

The Web's News Giants Smell Money in Your Backyard. You Ready to Compete?

With TV networks contributing their content to Hulu and ending the once ironclad arrangement that you see NBC shows on NBC stations, the "bypass local stations but own local advertising" model is no hypothetical threat.  It's time for smart station managers and news directors to look at their own websites and ask if they can compete against their own network--if it ever came to that.

Can you?  Is your site that good?  Is it tied to your TV product or growing in creative ways away from the TV newscast and terrestrial station?  Is your local online reporting going to be better than NBC's or CBS's or Huffington Post's?

You may not be thinking this way.  But trust me.  They are.

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6Jul/090

Dispatch from the Frontlines: Local TV Now Host Michael Bieke

PODCASTLOGOMy wife and I have three dogs, and as a result, I spend a lot of time on dog-walking duty.  It's hardly a chore for me, as I enjoy taking tours around the neighborhood with the fur team, and listening to a good podcast.

My favorites are the daily news podcasts from UK news sites like The Guardian and the BBC, and NPR shows like Fresh Air. I get my political fix at the end of every week with a collection of roundtable podcasts, and for the next three weeks I'll be downloading at least two Tour de France podcasts daily.  (Like I said, I spend a lot of time walking the dogs)

Podcasts are also great for staying on top of this fast evolving (or fast collapsing, if that's your worldview) business of ours.  WNYC does a great job with its weekly On the Media, and Jeff Jarvis hosts a very entertaining talker for the Guardian, Media Talk USA. Add to this list the local news focused Local TV Now, co-hosted by Michael Bieke, who's found absolutely no shortage of topics to dig into, though perhaps his choice of guests is questionable, with my appearance on this week's podcast.

DISPATCH FROM THE FRONTLINES:  Michael Bieke, Host, Local TV Now
Three months ago, I came to the realization that, while there are lots of stories about local television in the trade publications, there aren't a lot of places where conversations about the issues in the industry are taking place.  There are message boards that are often filled with hate (not that there's not a place for some of that), but very few frank discussions about the local TV business.

That's why my co-host Doug and I decided to start Local TV Now, a weekly podcast covering the business of television.  We talk about the issues facing broadcasters, but what we've always believed is our strength is interviewing and talking to others involved in various aspects of the industry.  In just three months, some of our best interviews have been with a very diverse group of people.  From medical journalism expert Gary Schwitzer who talked with us about the sorry state of health news reporting in television to Todd Jeunger from TiVo who discussed some new ratings options that aren't from Nielsen, we've had some great interviews.  And this week, we add Mark Joyella to the list as we have a very honest conversation about the realities of the business today and how journalists can better prepare themselves for tomorrow.

That all sounded kind of heavy, but we don't take ourselves too seriously.  We have fun doing the show because it's a topic we're passionate about, and we hope our listeners are too.

Local TV Now, Episode 13

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