Building a wide news commons

Let’s support tightly-focused, independent newsrooms.

Ben Werdmuller

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Doc Searls writes about what he calls wide news:

Local and regional papers covered politics, government, crises, disasters, sports, fashion, travel, business, religion, births, deaths, schools, and happenings of all kinds. They had reporters assigned across all their sections. No other medium could go as wide.

Doc’s argument is that a local commons of publications can, together, create a wide news ecosystem that fulfills the same role (with potentially deeper content). I agree.

I started my career building the first website and BBS for a local paper in Oxford that carried classified ads as well as event listings, notices, and that sort of thing: all the community stuff that the internet took over from newspapers. (As it happens, it’s still around, but most are not.) It was a real community hub, to the extent that anyone could come to the office to do some word-processing or get their photocopying done: a co-working space in the midst of the paper’s offices, long before anyone knew what co-working was.

Social media — and early on, blogging in particular — has played this role of reporting widely around a community. You could click through to local blogs, or Twitter, and learn about things that happened…

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Ben Werdmuller

Writer: of code, fiction, and strategy. Trying to work for social good.