Local Resolutions Part 28 of 29
This is the twenty-eighth in a series of 29 ways to help your local community online in 2010. If you missed it, you may wish to read the introductory post.
In this post, I suggest that sharing news relevant to other members of your local community is a great way to help strengthen your community while you’re online. This series has included recent posts about displaying a local-pride bumper sticker, sharing the link love, and inspiring others to buy local.
Yesterday I mentioned how the social Web is like a bunch of cracker barrels, with people chatting about what’s new and what matters to them.
Today, I’d like to go a step further with that analogy.
We humans love news. All the current talk about “the future of journalism” and “the role of today’s journalist” focus on journalism to the exclusion of news. When the news is truly news, we can’t get enough of it. “What’s new?” and “What’s happening?” are our ever-pertinent questions for visitors and for friends we haven’t seen in a while.
We’re growing intolerant of fluff
When you produce a daily newspaper or a daily television news show, you have space or airtime to fill. It’s a similar amount of space to fill whether a lot is going on or not much is going on. It’s exactly the same amount of airtime to fill. If there isn’t enough real news to fill it, fluff gets brought in by the truckload.
As a result, fewer and fewer people read the local newspaper or watch the local news show every day. I can’t blame them, can you?
The downside to this trend of tuning out the news is obvious: While people are avoiding mountains of brain-numbing fluff, they’re also missing out on the rare bits of really important news.
Help others identify the real news
The good news is that the solution/opportunity is equally obvious: When you know something’s important, bring it to other people’s attention.
It’s like sitting around the cracker barrel. If you think something is newsworthy, you’ll bring it up. If others agree that it’s interesting or important, they’ll talk about it. If not, it will get dropped. The so-called “wisdom of crowds” is well suited for separating the wheat from the chaff in terms of what’s news.
The real advantage of what we have today over the cracker barrel of days gone by is that we do have access to journalism, and good journalism. If I tweet something that begins with “I heard that…,” other people can fact-check me easily. Most of the time, I can include a link directly to an article that has the key facts.
It’s the best of both worlds. Real people get to identify the news, and journalists get to make the conversations better-informed instead of just the swapping of gossip and rumor.
So today, resolve to spread the news—the real news—online this year.