Social Media and Local News in Edmonton

My favorite media/journalism/news blogger is Jeff Jarvis. His blog, BuzzMachine, is a treasure trove of information and insight on how the web is transforming the world of news media. Jeff has spent a lot of time thinking about local news specifically, a topic I am very interested in. Yesterday he wrote a post summarizing his thoughts on where local news might go. These are the highlights for me:

“The next generation of local (news) won’t be about news organizations but about their communities.”

“News will emerge from networks.”

“Do what you do best and link to the rest will be a foundation of the future architecture of news.”

“News will find new forms past the article, which will include any media, wiki snapshots of knowledge, live reports, crowd reports, aggregation, curation, data bases, and other forms not yet created.”

I encourage you to read the entire post, it’s definitely worth it.

Thinking about Jeff’s post made me wonder what local news organizations here in Edmonton are doing to prepare for the future. Are they focused on communities? Are they creating networks? Are they specializing and linking elsewhere? Are they supporting news beyond the article?

In general, I think the answer to those questions is no. An examination of how local news organizations are using social media is somewhat encouraging, however. Why look at social media? Generally speaking, I think blogs, social networks, etc., address all four areas – communities, networks, linking & sharing, and life beyond the article.

These are some of the traditional sources for local news here in Edmonton, with links to their social media activities:

As you can see, there are quite a few organizations that still haven’t gotten their feet wet with social media (unless I missed some links – one thing all these sites have in common is that they are terribly messy and hard to navigate). The Journal appears to be the most active, with a Facebook application, Twitter account, and blogs and podcasts on its site. The relatively new iNews880 is similarly active. All the organizations offer RSS feeds except for Global Edmonton, Citytv Edmonton, and SEE Magazine (the Edmonton Sun recently added feeds).

These days, I get most of my local news from four main sources:

The trend I have noticed is that breaking news starts with the traditional organizations but is spread by individuals through services like Twitter, Connect2Edmonton, and Facebook (and good old-fashioned word of mouth too). Organizations like The Journal have people dedicated to gathering the news, so it makes sense that they’d be the ones to break the news (most of the time). They could definitely be doing a better job of interacting with the community and forming networks online to spread that news, however. And they pretty much do nothing beyond the article, at least at the moment (heck the Journal won’t even hyperlink URLs inside their articles).

Take yesterday’s story about the new arena concept, for instance. I first heard about the news on C2E. I understand that Citytv was the first traditional source to pick up on the story. I spread the news via Twitter and my blog, and others did the same. Today articles appeared in The Journal, on CBC Edmonton’s site, and elsewhere, but they didn’t really offer anything new, and they didn’t provide links to the images, video, maps, or other bits of information readers might be interested in.

I like the vision for local news that Jeff Jarvis has suggested, but it seems to me that the local organizations aren’t leading the way into that future. Instead, individuals are dragging them into it. I wonder if that will always be the case?