Hyperlocal News? As long as it's professional.

CNN.com has a wonderful piece on the emergence of "hyperlocal" news organizations. Thinking about the rise of focused, local news organizations certainly makes me happy, much like thinking about the farmers market at Grand Army Plaza makes me hungry. Certainly this can be a great boon to not only local news outlets (which, lets be honest, need it), but also to general knowledge around the world. The advent of wiki's and truly mobile computing (Blackberry, iPhone, etc...) has turned everyone into a expert on everything. Many years ago when I was graduating from high school my guidance council had some trouble giving me a good recommendation for college because I was a "renaissance man" in his mind. I knew a lot about a whole lot of things, but I had no real advantage in any field. Wiki's have compunded this problem into an international issue, with a general knowledge of almost everything made available at the push of a button (at a recent night out we used Wikipedia to remember the villains from several Hanna Barbera cartoons). Of course the problem with this knowledge is that it's never completely trustworthy. Wikipedia and the like can be edited by anyone with internet access, and has been shown as a result to be easy to tamper with. History is certainly written by the winners, but facts are facts and should remain so. This is why it is still inadmissible to use a wiki as a source in a publishable paper of any kind.

So what exactly am I getting at here? While I'm excited about the possibility of an increase in hyperlocal news organizations such as chitowndailynews.org Id' like to echo the sentiments of Jane McDonnell, the executive director of the Online News Association. "...there's less journalistic oversight over what is being disseminated and distributed and created." So basically news outlets will turn into wiki's. This is the danger that these hyperlocal outlets create. Journalists go through school and training to prevent (or at least try to) the distribution of un-sourced, unreliable news. My greatest fear is that these organizations will reduce newspapers to wiki's (and who will kids quote in school papers then?).

Personally, I like aggregators like Everyblock. Sourcing established news outlets (both local and national) as well as government agencies (again, both local and national), seems to be the best and most reliable way to generate hyperlocal news. Of course that's just what I think. In the end, I fear, that this will be decided by money and if hyperlocal news organizations are the wave of the future, I can only hope that they are well staffed and well trained.