Blogs Get Local
My mom is a local journalist in the small Iowa community I grew up in, writing for the local weekly newspaper. She doesn't cover sexy stories about violent crimes, corporate corruption and political backstabbing with the same frequency as big market papers, which is a good thing in my mind.
Her stories and editorials deal with issues directly impacting the local community, retaining the small community feel as the town continues its rapid expansion due to proximity to Des Moines and a recent highway bypass project. So far, the community paper is retaining its voice in spite of an acquisition by Gannet a few years ago.
Many large markets lost the people's voice ages ago, buried by newspaper mergers and politics that rendered them places where a handful of people dictate the stories everyone will read on a weekly basis. Alternative papers make a small attempt to fill the void, with too much of a niche bias to draw in massive readerships. A more recent trend in blogging is helping to fill the gap with community voices, local news coverage and a real attempt to reengage the people of smaller neighborhoods through narrowly targeted topical blogs.
At Webzine 2005, I met one of the people passionately bringing community news back to life. Andy Bowser publishes Daily Heights, a blog dedicated to things important to the Brooklyn Prospect Heights neighborhood. It's people like Andy who are using the Web to make the world feel more like a collection of neighborhoods again instead of a bunch of individuals all linked up through impersonal wires and data.