Friday, March 30, 2007

SF Chronicle You Have Our Attention

A case of cause and effect? Just a week ago, Tim O'Reilly was opining that the SF Chronicle was "in trouble." Noting that he hates to " Valleywag..." Tim goes on to say that Phil Bronstein (editor-in-chief at the Chron) held an emergency meeting with staff in which he stated that the "news business is broken, and no one knows how to fix it."

And then this week, he started to fix it.

What is it that local journalistic endeavors can do better than anyone else? Provide coverage of whatever makes their own local scene special and different. The San Jose Mercury News could have (but hasn't) made the tech industry their special beat. But in the last week, the SF Chronicle has been making this weird thing called "web 2.0" and what author Andrew Keen is calling "the cult of the amateur" their special beat.

Today it was a story about something just 11 days old -- -- which is capturing the interest of the technorati but who would of thought that mainstream news readers would be interested? The Chronicle made their story on Justin and his fellow nerds front page news.

Crazy? Or brilliant? Sure, most San Franciscans are like people in the rest of the country -- interested in the Iraq war, local politics, and weekend sales. But what makes this area DIFFERENT from the rest of the country is people like Justin and the crazy new companies that get created from their ideas. This is the future of local journalism -- uncovering and writing about what is special and unique about their local area.

As one of my old journalist friends used to say "three is a trend" -- the article about wasn't the only interesting piece in the Chron this week.

On Monday it was Dan Fost's article on phenom twitter.

On Thursday it was Dan's coverage of Kathy Sierra.

For me, this kind of coverage makes the Chronicle relevant again. It makes me visit their website and talk about them and maybe even spend $.25 to buy the paper as I make my way onto BART in the morning (the current discount for BART morning commuters).

And I think it shows the way for other local papers -- dig into what YOUR region is known for, or what you think is special. Maybe you can build an online audience, maybe you can get your local readers interested again, maybe you can be relevant again in a world where you can no longer just re-run AP articles that we are already getting on our Blackberrys...

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