CUNY J-school experiments with hyperlocal news

March 1st, 2009

Traditional newspapers are in a crisis. Last week the 150 year old Rocky Mountain News published its last issue and the Philadelphia Inquirer filed for bankruptcy. Experts have been saying for some time that the newspapers need to focus on one aspect that can not be commoditized — local news. It’s also clear that news content delivered via ink on dead trees is not a working model for the future.

Jeff Jarvis, director of CUNY’s interactive journalism program, describes one new experiment that sounds very promising in a post titled The Times & CUNY (and others) go hyperlocal.

The New York Times is about to announce that it is starting a hyperlocal product called The Local working with our students at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism. PaidContent has the story early. So I’ll tell you about the school’s and my involvement and plans.

At CUNY, we were working on a hyperlocal plan of our own, aimed at taking one New York neighborhood and turning it into the ultimate hyperlocal community as a showcase to both demonstrate how a community could be empowered to report on itself and to create a laboratory where our students could learn to interact with the public in new and collaborative ways. The problem with teaching interactive journalism, which is what we call my department, is that students don’t have a public with whom to interact.