Community newspapers are the information lifeline of small communities. They are the primary sources of accurate, timely and relevant information to the residents in those neighborhoods. Their faithful supporters trust them to provide information on interests and issues relevant to them and their communities. Judging by the size of many of the publications, they are doing a pretty good job.
Even though published papers are still preferred by residents, there is an opportunity for community newspapers to tell their stories to a broader audience online. This is best done through live blogging. Not only will this method of reporting allow these sources to continue to serve current followers, it will also increase their online visibility and make their stories accessible to people all over the world. Thus, following are seven reasons why community newspapers should live blog.
1. Report first; report right
Many people distrust information shared by mainstream media sources due to the exclusion, exaggeration and inaccuracy of information. It appears that they are more interested in being first to report a story than being accurate. Live blogging allows you to do both in real time. Information will get to your targeted audience before mainstream newspapers – if they share at all, and it will be correct. The more you live blog, the more your status as a trusted resource will grow.
2. Garner support for issues in the community
There are some issues that are relevant to particular communities that are best shared by newspapers in their communities. For instance, immigration is the hot topic in Latino communities and violence runs rampant in many African American neighborhoods. Mainstream media sources tend to leave out the human side of these stories; report the negative aspects of these issues; or exclude relevant details. Live blogging will allow you to immediately share people’s stories in real time while educating your audience about issues. If shared effectively, you can tap into the emotional sides of your readers and gain their support.
3. Dispel myths and stereotypes
Mainstream media does very little to bridge gaps created by “isms.” In fact, the information they share mostly serves to further divide groups based on race, color, culture, religion, social status, gender, sexual and political preference. Thus, details are either exaggerated, deleted or inaccurate. Community newspapers do a good job of overshadowing these practices by educating and reporting on issues and topics that are relevant to residents. Special live blog sessions can be held to educate audiences on the history, culture and current issues impacting a people or community. This will help dispel myths and stereotypes portrayed by mainstream media.
4. Capture a more tech-savvy audience
Community newspapers tend to appeal to readers 55 and over who still read daily print newspapers. Younger generations are getting their news online and through mobile devices. Live blogging will help reach this growing teach-savvy audience through relevant and accurate information. Currently, these media sources are missing out on this huge audience by not pushing their online presence.
5. Content for print
Live blogging will not only give you content for your site during the live blog, it will also provide content for your print edition. This will help both the online and print journalists. Of course, the printed story will contain more detail and a different journalistic style, but why waste good information?
6. Attract a worldwide audience
Although your primary goals for live blogging is to reach your targeted audience, being online will allow your content to be experienced by worldwide audiences. You never know who’s going to be interested in your stories, your topics or your community in places far away. This may lead to worldwide concern and support for your local issue.
7. Revenue stream
You can generate an additional revenue stream through live blogging. You will find creative ways to advertise and get paid!
Although community newspapers tend to be traditional in nature, live blogging will allow them to expand their online presence and reach. It will also give readers an honest and accurate view of the community and residents that live there. This method of reporting will definitely contribute to the success of community newspapers because they will be sharing news that matter to people who genuinely care – locally and globally.
Are you a community newspaper that live blogs? What has been your experience?