Category Archives: Journalism watch: Hyperlocal vs. Social Media

The debate is brewing about the financial stability of hyperlocal sites. When Gannett laid off people its New Jersey hyperlocal sites died with the layoffs.

The problems, however, seem to have been that the hyperlocal reporters had to file for the website and the Gannett newspaper, with no local advertising support from the company to generate revenue. See the story at

Jack Shafer, the media critic at Slate, wrote two columns about hyperlocals–columns I missed before the holiday weekend. In the first, Shafer, who does a superb job at covering the media, argues that people tend to use social media to talk about local news. He sees interests as more important than geography. Therefore, he dismisses AOL’s Patch, for example, as a costly exercise in futility. See the first story at 

Shafer took some body shots from those who run successful hyperlocal sites, so he ran a second column at, which includes comments from critics of the first column.

I run a hyperlocal site at At the moment, I have the luxury of not having to worry about making money because students are the reporters. Tuition and lab fees pay the bills.

With dwindling state budgets, however, I expect that there will be a discussion of how to make more money from the site, which is relatively successful small site with about 800 unique users and 1,500 page views per day since we seriously launched the site two and one-half years ago.

I believe that people want information about their neighborhoods AND their interests. Facebook also tends to isolate many of us with our friends wherever they may be throughout the world without any public sphere to discuss the issues of our neighborhoods. I think that hyperlocal can deal with local issues and interesting people nearby without bogging down into village council meetings and other boring stuff.

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Filed under Education, Journalism, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Neighborhoods If You Really Want to Understand the Arab Uprisings, Here it is

Someone who truly understands the underpinnings of the Arab uprisings in recent months has written an insightful analysis of the events. First, he dispels the notion of an Arab spring, which most journalists use to describe what occurred.

First, there is no spring from Morocco to Yemen. Second, the comparison with the Prague spring is inaccurate because Soviet tanks crushed the Czech uprising in 1968.

See the full article at

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Filed under Egypt, Journalism, Libya, Terrorism watch: Democracy, Economics and Trudy Rubin Create More Confusion

It’s been a bit since Trudy Rubin has been a subject of my analysis. But her column today is a dandy. It is clear that Rubin doesn’t understand Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

Today she tackles democracy, economics and the debt ceiling, blaming Republicans for causing the potential downfall of the United States as a world leader. Huh?

Following is an excerpt from her column:

Few Americans grasp the dangers of the congressional battle over the debt ceiling. Somewhere between 33 percent and 40 percent of every dollar the U.S. government spends is financed by borrowing. Under Republican and Democratic administrations alike we have been able to finance this debt because U.S. Treasury bills are considered the world’s safest investment. Countries such as China and Saudi Arabia keep their excess funds in T-bills because of their unqualified faith in U.S. institutions.

That could change.

The debt ceiling needs to be raised at the latest by early August – not to spend more, but to cover current obligations. Republican and Democratic leaders have been locked in talks to find $2 trillion in federal savings to offset a rise in the debt limit.”

This column simply adds to the confusion by those, including me, who studied and reported on economics for years.

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Filed under Economy, Journalism, watch: A Few Examples of Why Legacy Media Have a Credibility Problem

Wonder why the media have a credibility problem? Here are some today’s headlines from Tom Petner’s website about broadcasting at

**ABC News has paid $215,000 for Casey Anthony scoops.  Julie Moos at the Poynter Institute reports on a witness at the murder trial of Casey Anthony who testified that he was paid $15,000 by ABC News to license a snake photo…and that this is the latest revelation that ABC News has paid licensing fees for access to interviews, including $200,000 to Casey Anthony while she was under investigation but before she was charged with killing her daughter.

**There’s a touch of sleazy irony here…NBC’s Chris Hansen caught in his own videotape sting.  The National Enquirer reports: Predator Catcher Chris Hansen Caught Cheating!

**New York market – Weathercaster Heidi Jones pleads not guilty to faking police report that she was sexual assaulted.  But her lawyer said the case should be tossed because it has dragged on for too long.  Jones’ lawyer, Paul Callan, tells the NY Daily News, “”We are going to seek dismissal of the indictment on the grounds she’s been denied a speedy trial.”

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Filed under Journalism watch: Four People Arrested for Stealing Newspaper

Four people were arrested in a small Georgia town for stealing newspapers. It seems to me that the newspaper should hire them as consultants to determine why they thought the newspapers had value. See the story at


Filed under Journalism watch: Outsourcing Journalism Education

The chairman of my department sent out an article today about journalism education. Simply put, the Poynter Institute, which is well known for its training programs in person, is selling itself as an online teacher for journalism. Two schools, Missouri State and Florida Atlantic University, have signed up.

Since I have just finished grading papers, which I call digitals, from 40 multimedia students and 14 stories from my research students, I would be more than happy to turn over some part of the teaching and grading to Poynter.

I don’t think the online class, which now is an introductory one, makes much sense for a school. It makes economic sense for Poynter because that course will be the largest.

What makes more sense for the college or university is to call on Poynter to teach specific technical programs like Flash or Final Cut Pro. I actually wish Poynter well in its endeavors. I think it is a better idea than hiring adjuncts who may be good journalists but ineffective teachers. Poynter has a proven record.

See the story at 

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Filed under Journalism, Temple watch: A Joint Investigation of Former PA House Speaker and Philadelphia Neighborhoods conducted a look at the aftermath of former House Speaker John Perzel’s indictment for corruption and loss of his Northeast Philly seat in the legislature in 2010. It’s a great example of hyperlocal reporting, funded by a grant from J-Lab, and pooling the resources of two organizations. The reports can be seen at

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Filed under Journalism, Philadelphia Neighborhoods