told you that the way local news flows online is as follows:
- Local news outlet breaks a story
- Local blogs pick it up, provide commentary, go nuts, etc.
- Local news outlet reports online reaction to the story they reported, thus
creating a "local reaction story"
- Start over
- Winston-Salem based blogger Esbee gets a comment on one of her
blog posts that asks if she’s heard anything about a flurry of break-ins in the
Sherwood area. The commenter had pasted in the text of an email that was making
its way around the community.
- She hasn’t, but she writes
a separate post with the comment in the body to see if anyone has heard
about them. She also checks the police calls and finds some
- She gets comments asking her to remove the address that police provided,
although it’s really just a block number AND it’s public info that’s on the
police website. She does remove the address but points out that it’s public
info. The last comment on her post says, "How the hell did the Journal miss
this?!?!Now that I look through, there are like 5 "investigative support" things
at that address, too! Do they actually look at this stuff, or do they wait for
the police to spoonfeed what the police would have us hear?"
- Today the Winston-Salem Journal runs this
story with the headline, "Police report multiple
break-ins in Sherwood Forest area"
then did what reporters are paid to do, which is dig into it. I’m not saying
this is a bad or improper thing, I just think it’s a natural evolution of the
form and I only write about it because I constantly hear people say that blogs
are a bunch of narcissistic ramblings written by people with nothing better to
do. Obviously I disagree.
I IM’d Esbee about this and she pointed out
that the real food chain was:
- Email or comments are sent to blogger about a community issue
- Blogger looks at it and finds the story viable (i.e. not a hoax)
- Blogger posts, which generates more comments and feedback and fleshes out
- Media picks up the story
experience involved just like I had with
against a teacher at my son’s school. But the main point is that local blogs
provide another avenue for community information to be shared, and in the
atmosphere of shrinking budgets and reporting staffs that newspapers are
operating in they would be foolish not to follow the leads that the blogs
provide. When you think about it, how have news operations traditionally gotten
their stories? Tips via email, and phone calls, press releases from companies
and institutions, monitoring the police scanner, etc. How is monitoring blogs
One thing I’d like to see is that if a paper does
pick up a lead from a blog that perhaps they reference the blog in their
article. If nothing else it would give readers an opportunity to get the back
story and it would acknowledge the contribution that the blogger is making to
the community. Another reason I’d give is that newspaper folks have complained
for years that local TV newscasts get most of their stories from the newspapers,
so I’d hope that newspapers would be sensitive to the same issue with the
bloggers. On the other hand maybe they take the view that if the TV folks
aren’t going to give them credit for story leads then why should they give
bloggers credit? The "kick the dog" theory as it were.
Side note: I
just noticed that Esbee’s been removed from the Journal’s blog
page. Since Life in
Forsyth is easily the most informative blog focused on the Winston-Salem
area I’m a bit surprised by this. I certainly hope it’s not because she wrote
a while back. That would be a bit like biting the hand that feeds if you ask