Very local; very interactive

So much news is easily available on the Internet, so what should a news organization’s website offer? What value can it add? Should it be quicker? More local? More sports? More how-to? Better written? More professionally edited and, therefore, trustworthy? More interpretation? Can the added value be multimedia? Maybe not. Maybe journalism websites that just provide news are doomed.

Instead, some people argue, journalism websites should be facilitating conversations. Their goal should be to provide news that stimulates 10, 100, 1,000, or 10,000 comments. In this scenario, an important part of a journalist’s job would be to join, stimulate, and lead community conversations.

The CSJMM will soon (re)launch a multimedia news website with content produced by students. My idea is that the site should by very local and very interactive. I’d like every journalism student to pick one building within five blocks of GIPA and to only use people who live or work in “their” building when they do their homework assignments and when they report for the website. Imagine if journalism students had a “beat” of one building for a 2-year period of time! They would get to know people and their concerns very well. Then imagine if 33 (or more) journalism students did all of their reporting in a 5-block radius. CSJMM could provide excellent news coverage of this small area, and, I believe, people living in this area would visit CSJMM’s website in order to learn what their neighbors believe are the important local issues and problems. I also believe that CSJMM’s website could report on this small section of Tbilisi better than any other news organization. Eventually, if the students succeed, we could expand our coverage to a 10-block radius.

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About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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