Hyperlocal Journalism

Recent Posts

Returning to the newsroom as a multimedia journalist

By Robert Washburn

Having just spent the last week working as a reporter for two different platforms, the experience was amazing. As always, it is through the experience something new is revealed. For two weeks I am reporting for both Northumberland Today and the community radio station Northumberland 89.7 FM. The newspaper’s managing editor generously supported the idea and the radio station is very accommodating.  Days are spent gathering news and by 4 p.m. I am delivering a 7-minute newscast that is recorded and repeated throughout the evening. Continue Reading →

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Globe and Mail union fights for all journalists, including those in communities

By Robert Washburn

As this is being written, the union representing Globe and Mail reporters and editors is heading back to the negotiating table to try and reach a deal after more than 90 per cent of its membership voted for a strike. One critical issue is a demand by management to get journalists to write advertorial content, meaning promotional material in the guise of a news-style story. The term used today is Brand Journalism. It is very popular in the marketing world and generates a lot of revenue for some publishers. It is unethical for journalists to write this content because it undermines journalistic independence and misrepresents what a journalist is suppose to do – tell the truth in a balanced, fair and unbiased manner. Continue Reading →

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Community journalism critical to rural Canada’s survival

With the closure of a number of community newspaper, the search for a sustainable model is elusive. While most academics frame the debate over these closure in terms of the impact on local democracy or the failure of an economic model, there may be another way to view the issue – through the lens of rural sustainability. Here are three articles I recent wrote for J-Source indicating some thoughts on this important aspect of journalism. Here is the introduction I wrote for the three-part series:

“When a community newspaper closes, it is a great loss. Still, publishers will argue it is the economic reality of the times. Continue Reading →

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CBC Hyperlocal project an exciting first for Canada

By Robert Washburn

One of the most ambitious and exciting hyperlocal projects in Canada right now is the CBC project “Hyperlocal”. This five-week project is a call to Canadians to tell stories about the neighbourhoods. “We want to know what’s new and changing in your neighbourhood and what that change means to you,” the website says. It is collecting text, photos, audio or raw video. All stories will be posted online and one will be selected by a jury panel at the end. Continue Reading →

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Responding to State of the Media 2013 requries new path for community journalism

By Robert Washburn

The State of the News Media 2013 annual report on American Journalism delivered some pretty somber results with its release on Monday. Newsrooms are shrinking to a point where it is having an effect on audiences and content in an unprecedented way. Cutbacks in 2012 reduce the number of journalists by 30 per cent since its peak in 2000 and its lowest since the 1970s. The results are a 31 per cent drop in people turning to news outlets for information because they are no longer getting the news they were accustomed to getting. Content is suffering. Continue Reading →

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A gut reaction to the new OCNA Digital Market Study and the future of community newspapers

By Robert Washburn

A significant step towards helping independent community newspaper become more sustainable in the face of massive changes in the news industry took place last week with the release of the Ontario Community Newspaper Association’s Digital Market Study. The informative and highly practical document produced by Borrell Associates, and partially funded by the Collective Initiatives program at Canadian Heritage, provides a candid summary of current trends in small market newspaper publishing in Canada, while comparing the results to trends in the United States. The report is rich in its content and the results deserve careful scrutiny over a longer period of time. But, on first blush, a couple of things stand out. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Journalism Strategies Conference: What’s next?

There is an inspiring moment in the award-winning television series West Wing when Martin Sheen’s character, President Jed Bartlet, asks, “What’s next?”

It is a defining moment. Rather than go over points he already understands, Bartlet is anxious to move on to the next challenge rather than waste time laboring over things he cannot change. Once a decision is made, then what is next? (more…) Continue Reading →

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Cobourg journalist and educator experiments with technology

COBOURG — Loyalist College professor Robert Washburn is test-driving what he considers a new model of journalism — for what he hopes will be a published paper, and what he is confident will work out to the benefit of students in the Journalism: On-line, Print and Broadcast program. For full story see Northumberland Today

Thanks to Cecilia Nasmith, the reporter for this story, who gave a great summary of my research into hyperlocal journalism and its role in revitalizing journalism in rural Canada. Not an easy topic at the best of times. She did a great job capturing what I am doing on this site over the next few months. Continue Reading →

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Cobourg beach fiasco: hyperlocal journalism at it should be

Northumberland Today reporter Pete Fisher launched a maelstrom this week after reporting on the lack of bylaw enforcement along Cobourg’s waterfront over the long August Civic Holiday weekend. His timing from a journalistic perspective was everything, as a confluence of events magnified the problems. First, a recent Toronto Star article extolling the virtues of Cobourg beach was a tourism promoters dream come true. The idyllic picture of a pristine beach populated by families enjoying the summer along the lakeshore couldn’t have been better. Second, the annual Sandcastle Festival took place, drawing huge crowds. It was also the DBIA’s Sidewalk Sale, but that was more of a local promotion. Continue Reading →

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