Newpapers in the Community

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Holy Kernan of KALW interviewed David Wier regading the changing media landscape. Weir is a bit of an expert on this topic as he is the co-founder of the Center for Investigative Reporting and blogs consistently on the subject of the change in today’s media.

At one point Kernan asked Weir what newspapers mean to a community. According to Weir, there is no way to tell because newspapers in America have not fully invested themselves in their communities. Weir comments that while newspapers cover community stories, they do not become involved in the community.

Weir goes on to point out a news group in Mexico that has a quite different system from any in America, La Reforma, the largest, most sucessful newspaper group in Mecico (according to Weir). What makes la Reforma so sucessful? They have a long standing policy of inviting members of the public on to an advisory panel to review the new and provide suggestions on how to cover the community better.

This method of community involvement has been so successful that when La Reforma faced the challenge of moving its content online, 80% of its subscibers agreed to continue paying for online content because they felt invested in the newspaper. Readers felt they were part of the newspaper and that the stories did not belong to the paper, but the community.

Is this devotion to community lost within American newspapers? Would more community involvement help papers as they transit from physical paper to online media?


David Wiley October 1, 2011 at 6:45 PM  

What an incredible concept. It is a great example of how a little bit of community involvement can go a long way toward paying dividends. Newspapers that are struggling to get by right now should certainly take notice of this.

The downside is that it seems unlikely to me that many of our established newspapers will be willing to change their way of thinking like this. I could imagine many of them being afraid to allow the community too much power over their content, especially since they are already seeing declining readership. Maybe the American public wouldn't respond at all to their efforts of community involvement?

For centuries there has been a division between newspapers and the community. The newspapers have existed to report the news, and it was a one-way interaction. The readers did nothing more than simply read. Even with the ability to comment on online publications, I can't imagine something like this being effective without years of change being in place first.

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