My local newspaper didn’t tell me that my friend Yann crashed on his mountain bike and ended up in the hospital this week. Twitter did, since he posted a note to his Twitter followers about the accident.
I think this points out a problem and an opportunity for newspapers. Problem: they don’t offer people the micro-local and personal news and information that makes a difference in people’s lives. Opportunity: they need to offer the micro-local and personal news and information that makes a difference in people’s lives.
Do I really mean to get THAT local? Yeah, I do think there’s great value in a digital monitoring system that brings me news about people I know, my neighbors, my neighborhood, schools my kids attend, organizations I belong to, interest groups (e.g., sports, hobbies) that I belong to or follow, etc. I mean individuated, personalized news feed.
That exists to a degree already on Facebook, since personal news from my Facebook friends gets fed through my Newsfeed there. Local news organizations might use that as a model, developing individuated-news services that monitor news from a wide variety of sources — even Twitter, the micro-blogging service/social network.
For a while now I’ve been advocating that local news organizations, especially newspapers, start doing a better job of tapping all the great sources of information about their communities: local bloggers, institution websites and newsletters, government agencies’ websites and databases, etc. Yann’s misfortune, and how I found out about it, reminded me that Twitter and other similar services also are a source of “news” that can be monitored and leveraged by a reinvented local news organization when it makes a commitment to individuated news for its community members.