Category Archives: civic journalism
Lots to like about the neighborhood-centric focus of Pegasus News: a useful and user-friendly site, with interactive maps for categories like homes, garage sales and drink specials (to name just a very few) for the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.
While speaking with Matthew Sollars of News Innovation, Pegasus founder Mike Orren explained the business model behind his ambitious venture and explained why going hyperlocal isn’t enough:
You’ve got to have the hyperlocal neighborhood information in the context of what’s going on in the larger market. There is such a finite universe of people in a specific neighborhood that care enough to go out of their way to look for information and news about where they live, that universe is not enough to sell advertisers. But if you can put that in the context of ‘where am I going to go eat tonight, what’s going on locally in niche areas of interest that I have,’ that’s an opportunity to bring a lot more people into the fold. Then when you put neighborhood information in front of them they’re more likely to engage with it.
Another feature I really like about Pegasus is its commitment to value-added advertising for businesses: direct marketing, highly targeted e-mail blasts and geo-located mobile ads via an iPhone app that Pegasus developed itself.
To provide its news content, Pegasus maintains an impressive roster of contributors, and links to major news sources like the Ft. Worth Star Telegram and The Dallas Morning News. The next step, if I’m the online producer, would be to add a social networking function that harnesses the power of the site’s 500,000 unique visitors each month and helps build the brand as an indispensable source of news and information.
Whoa, have I been delinquent in posting. Not good, especially since I had just recently moved all of my blog entries from my old Virtualjournalist blog site to this one. To those who follow me on a regular basis, I apologize, but the past few weeks have seen me: a) lose the computer I’d been borrowing (I have a new one, thanks to a good friend), b) exercise a lot more, and c) volunteering with the Summer Journalism Camp at John Hopkins Middle for the month of June.
The two boys I was mentoring managed to get four stories completed (I believe three was the standard workload). Last Thursday, a week after camp ended, I offered a few hours of assistance by proofreading most of the paper. By the time I was finished, that red pen had gotten a thorough workout.
Now I have a part-time freelance project with a publishing company that I hope will tide me over until I find something — anything — full time.
Tomorrow we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming. Thanks for tuning in.
As the title to this post suggests, week two of the Midtown Magazine Journalism Camp is in the bag. It had it’s share of surprises, but all in a good way.
First, I’m very proud of the group I have the privilege of assisting, one that earned the distinction of being the first to complete a story.
Not that we had time to bask in the accomplishment. On Wednesday morning, we were informed that the business we had planned to profile was not ready for us, and that in its place a last-minute substitute had been found. Forgive me for not revealing the names of these businesses, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise before our articles are published. I’ll just say that the interview and tour we were given exceeded my expectations.
It would help, however, if the story really could write itself, because upon returning to John Hopkins Middle, one of the camp’s organizers informed us that the company we had originally been scheduled for would be able to see us the following morning. Are we up to the challenge of carrying an extra story? “We can do it,” I casually replied.
Which means — amidst the press conferences, tangential conversations and obligatory snack times — we’re committed to finishing three stories before Thursday. And we will find a way to get them done. Welcome to the world of journalism, kids.
Is that just overconfidence talking? Stay tuned and find out.
The three-week program helps students from J. Hop and Melrose hone their skills as journalists, sending them out to cover various businesses and citizens in the Midtown area of St. Petersburg.
Some of the volunteers are high school students, while others I’ve met are photographers and writers for The St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune. I believe a few are students from Eckerd College, which helps fund the camp.
Each day, we mentor the pair of students we’ve been assigned to (or, in my case, assigned themselves to me), assisting them with their newsgathering and writing.
Today, the team I’m working with went out on their first interview and did a commendable job. We’ve got do some follow-ups, but should have the article done by Tuesday. Then, as reporters well know, it’s on to the next story.
My experience at the camp has been nothing but positive, as was the volunteer work I did over the past three months for John Hopkins’s journalism program. There’s a reason why J. Hop and Melrose are consistently recognized as the best student newspapers in the nation in their respective categories — the teachers and students are that talented and dedicated.
Take about a minute and look at Mark Glaser’s 10 steps to saving newspapers in the digital age (via CyberJournalist). And then take note that the thread running through each of these steps isn’t about cutting costs as much as it is about being innovative in the effort to engage the local community.
Because I’m a good netizen, I won’t reprint the short post here and deprive CyberJournalist of the traffic, but I will say that Glaser is right on target in telling news sites to focus on what businesses want, rather than viewing them as an endless source of advertising dollars. And his recommendation to engage the community in face-to-face meetings recalls Gina Chen’s fine Save the Media post on how journalists can create communities of readers.
In Wave, I see more than a new generation of email cum wikis cum Twitter cum groupware. Because it can feed blog and web pages and Twitter, I see a new way to create content, collaborative and live. I see a new way to make news.
Imagine a team of reporters – together with witnesses on the scene – able to contribute photos and news to the same Wave (formerly known as a story or a page). One can write up what is known; a witness can add facts from the scene and photos; an editor or reader can ask questions. And it is all contained under a single address – a permalink for the story – that is constantly updated from a collaborative team.
Jarvis’ point about the collaborative nature of future news is echoed by Paul Gillin, writing for Newspaper Death Watch:
Tampa Bay journalist Alex Pickett adds some valuable perspective to the St. Petersburg Times‘ story about attempts by city leaders to address the dilapidated 600 block of Central Avenue:
So what’s our fair city to do? Well, they want to “revitalize” the block. But they don’t mention that back before 2006, this block was already thriving with unique local small businesses.
That is, before another developer — Gerald R. Pacella of 601 Central Ave LLC — came in, bought that part of the block and evicted all the shops to construct a bunch of condos. Condos that never saw the light of day. Another developer, Thomas Gaffney of Oldsmar Land Holding Group, bought the property in 2008. His intentions are not yet known, but some Google sleuthing shows his company likes to hold on to property and then sell it to the highest bidder. He’s already mentioned to the Times that he has no plans to refurbish the storefronts.
Here’s one question: Are plans to fill the empty storefronts with art studios simply a stopgap until the market improves and Gaffney decides to raze the block? And if so, what incentives are the city and/or Gaffney offering to entice temporary tenants?
If the St. Petersburg Times wants to start a constructive conversation about St. Petersburg’s relationship with the gay community, they’ve been presented with as good an opportunity as any:
Thus far, Cristina Silva’s story about the clash between St. Pete Pride and the city has generated well over 100 comments.
That’s the kind of reader interest the Times needs to take advantage of — and strike while the iron’s hot.
The issue: Pride organizers want to hang rainbow banners from light posts in the city’s gay-friendly business district throughout the month of June, to coincide with Pride Month.
According to Silva’s story, the city has rebuffed their initial proposal, citing a policy that states “all banners must carry a written message.” Pride organizers see that rejection as a violation of their constitutional rights.
Considering that this story has clearly touched a nerve, the Times would do well by itself — and the community — by dedicating a blog to the issue, one where reporters give continuous updates while also providing a forum for interaction with readers.
Off the top of my head, I can think a few questions prompted by Silva’s article and the reader comments that beg to be answered: