By paulgillin | June 23, 2009 - 9:02 am - Posted in Google, Hyper-local, Solutions

David HealeyDavid Healey lost his job at a small Maryland daily recently thanks to downsizing. He didn’t like being cut off from his community, so he started The Cecil Observer. “The response has been positive and the hits are growing,” he writes, but he adds, “The experience quickly brought me to the realization that print journalism was over except as a niche or boutique business.”

Here is a post David wrote about starting a blog and the role that blogs may come to play in the media world where information is published almost instantaneously. You can find the original entry here.

ONE of the things I’ve learned very quickly about blogging is that it truly moves at the speed of wi-fi, or at least as fast as one’s fingers can type on the keyboard.

Case in point: On Sunday evening I was thinking about posting something about the candidates who had filed for the Chesapeake City election. Because I live here in our little waterfront town, I’m always interested in who’s running. The deadline was noon Friday, and I had second-hand information about the list of names. However, my journalistic instincts were to wait and go right to the source Monday morning and call town hall before posting something for all the world to read. A good reporter would never base a news item for a print newspaper on hearsay; why should the blogosphere be any different?

Within minutes of musing on a post about the Chesapeake City candidates, my news feed indicated that someone had beat me to it. Our friends over at the Chesapeake City Mirror had posted the names of Rebecca Mann, Lee Collins, Rich Taylor and Harry Sampson as candidates for three seats on town council. (A tip of the hat to the Mirror for getting the information out there quickly and accurately.)

With so many people blogging, it’s hard to see how the print media can ever compete in terms of timely delivery of the news. However, the main challenge for citizen journalists is to make sure their posts are correct if the intent is to provide real news content. Then again, I wish I could say we never got anything wrong in the newspaper!

In the newspaper business, a “scoop” was a matter of being ahead of the competition by hours or maybe even days. In the blogosphere, a “scoop” comes down to minutes or even seconds. That’s an intensely competitive environment. Ping! That’s the sound of someone beating you to reporting the news.

Something else I learned back when I was a reporter and then acting editor at the weekly South County Courier newspaper in Middletown, Del., was that a weekly can’t compete against a daily (such as the News Journal) in delivering the really big news. But there were always important local stories that the dailies missed because the big guys didn’t go deep enough into the community. These issues made for front-page news in the Courier.

It seems to me that over time, local blogs will fill that same void — there will always be something to report on that the big guys missed. And local readers will be interested because they care about their communities.



This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 at 9:02 am and is filed under Google, Hyper-local, Solutions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. June 23, 2009 @ 10:08 am

    The local journalism part is relatively straightforward. The hard part is making a living doing it.

    Will people pay to read local-news blogs? Not yet. Will local companies advertise on them? Not yet – they don’t really believe in online adverising. (Just try selling them ads without a print component.)

    Maybe this will change. I doubt it, but I’m old and set in my ways, so hopefuly I’m wrong. Certainly it won’t change unless efforts like this try to change it!

    Posted by D Brooks
  2. June 24, 2009 @ 6:02 am

    I think we have to look beyond advertising as a means of support. Hybrid models are beginning to evolve in larger markets with affiliate programs, sponsored events and custom micro-sites taking up some of the slack, but the market is very early-stage. The reality is that people who do what Healey is doing are facing pay cuts and a struggle to stay afloat. There’s no clearly sustainable revenue model for something like this.

    Posted by Paul Gillin