Monday, December 2, 2013

Hyperlocal Connections

Carly Maurer
cm744511@ohio.edu


Hyperlocal journalism is a different kind of ethical journalism that lies in the realm of the expansion of community journalism. Often times, as a hyperlocal journalist, you are reporting on the community you are immersed in. You have a part in that community and a firm stake in what goes on in that community.

Does this Affect the Bias?

I argue that it does affect your bias, but I would also argue that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing that it does. We are human beings, we are going to have opinion, beliefs and morals, and we are going to feel strongly about them. Often times it is these strong beliefs however, that drive us to do something meaningful and write stories that have impact.

Why is being passionate about something always a bad thing? I understand that it can be detrimental when you fail to acknowledge other opinions, but knowledgeable people interested in the dialogue that media facilitates know better than to indulge in one side of a story.

I would argue that those hyperlocal reporters see the impact of multiple opinions more often than national news reporters and are inspired and compelled to showcase all opinions present in their community because it is those opinions, beliefs and morals of the community members that shape what the community is and what it means to those associated with it.

A good example of a hyperlocal site that does this is Patch.com, ran by AOL. As you can read about in this article,  “Patch’s focus is on transparency of bias rather than a lack of bias,” I understand that it can be hard to affectively suppress your bias when the things you report about are so close to home, but let's not think that national reporters don’t have bias that affects their work. They most certainly do, and if bias is inevitable it is important that it is transparent to the audience.


Filling a Gap

Hyperlocal news does an effective job at filling the gap between social media ‘news’ and big time national news. They cover events that big newspapers and media sources would overlook. By overlooking these events, the bigger news sources leave a large group unsatisfied.

Hyperlocal news can be hard to do at times, but I argue that its importance will never die out. It is much more human focused and therefore has the ability to bring people together. It covers stories about people, not just events, and by doing so, showcases what is truly important.

I believe connecting with the viewers on a deeper level has the power to touch people's lives in a remarkably profound way. I believe person-to-person connections and the growth that comes with them is what gives meaning to life. Hyperlocal content has become essential to these connections.

How to Stay Ethical

In order for these hyperlocal sites to be ethical and credible, they still need to follow guidelines. While some of the guidelines arguably differ, for these sites to remain credible, their journalistic integrity with regard to editorial content needs to be at the caliber of the mainstream media, if not above it.

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