Toward a More Connected Neighborhood
To meaningfully shape its future, Jackson Heights requires a robust communications system. However, New York City neighborhoods have never had that luxury. This page's premise is that these digital times offer an opportunity to create a neighborhood focused media that enhances the civic health and livability of Jackson Heights.
Our Historic Media Lacuna
Historically, New York City neighborhoods have had limited communication capacity, lacking meaningful, locally controlled mass media. Industrial era TV, radio, and newspapers, with their regional reach and huge capital investment, were a key cause. And while New York might be the world's media capitol, when one compares media resources in two similarly sized geographic areas, Jackson Heights and Terre Haute, Indiana, our media deficit becomes apparent.
Terre Haute, Indiana Jackson Heights Population 105,000 100,000 TV Stations 2 0 Daily Newspapers 1 0 Radio Stations 8 0
Today, a variety of digital media have expanded the scope of media available to neighborhood residents. However, the consistently diminishing traditional media, especially newspapers, and the ease of digital publishing - which has created an inch deep media ocean, makes it unclear if "digital" has meant progress for the neighborhood.
Local Media Components
To help us think through some of the needs and options, the following is offered.
Four Information Categories
In his book All the News That’s Fit to Sell Jay Hamilton offer's a framework for thinking about four different categories of information: Here's an assessment of how they match neighborhood resident needs.
- Entertainment - the fun and entertaining must focus on the neighborhood and the immediate adjacent.
- Producer - work related (largely from non-local sources);
- Consumer - consumer info about stuff to buy;
- Voter info - about how one makes demands as a voter and a citizen; civic information about what one needs to know to be a civically engaged and capable of having a positive impact on society.
Role in Governance
Columbia journalism professor Michael Schudson sees six things news does for democracy, presented in order of their frequency. The first three functions Schudson sees are straightforward and unsurprising.
- The news informs us about events, locally and globally, that we need to know about as citizens.
- The news investigates issues that are not immediately obvious, doing the hard work of excavating truths that someone did not want told.
- News provides analysis, knitting reported facts into complex possible narratives of significance and direction.
Schudson wades into deeper waters with the next three functions.
- News can serve as a public forum, allowing citizens to raise their voices through letters to the editor, op-eds and (when they’re still permitted) through comments.
- The news can serve as a tool for social empathy, helping us feel the importance of social issues through careful storytelling, appealing to our hearts as well as our heads.
- Controversially, Schudson argues, news can be a force for mobilization, urging readers to take action, voting, marching, protesting, boycotting, or using any of the other tools we have access to as citizens.
Innovative Journalism Models
Newspapers, reporters, journalists, journalism... these are the terms used to describe a largely advertiser supported information-based industry of the 20th century. The development of digital technology shifted the advertising revenue to more efficient and effective media channels disrupting traditional media and resulting in layoffs, consolidations, and closings. Some traditional media still serve Jackson Heights, see Neighborhood Media.
To fill the void left by the shrinking traditional media and to explore the capacity of digital, several new journalism models are being tested. Summaries of these can be found via the following.
- Citizen Journalism
- Civic Journalism
- Collaborative Journalism
- Community Journalism
- Wiki Journalism - Wiki journalism is a form of participatory journalism or crowdsourcing, which uses wiki technology to facilitate collaboration between users. It is a kind of collaborative journalism. The largest example of wiki journalism is Wikinews. How are stories for the home page selected? See here.
- [ Blogs by local residents]
- Society Reporting
- With the demise of DNAInfo, Patch offers the latest "best hope" for a national entity to extract benefits as local media.
Lessons can be learned from these journalism models and newer blockchain based media.
Proposal #1: A Neighborhood Controlled Jackson Heights Media
With a foundation goal of the JacksonHeights.nyc Initiative being to facilitate neighborhood communications, the following media model is being explored.
- We will use the intuitive JacksonHeights.nyc domain name as it offers clear identity advantages: "Yes, I can remember that."
- As a neighborhood-controlled media we will empower Real Residents as content providers, adding trust and accountability.
- We use the collaborative WikiTribune software.
- Advertising will occupy, at most, 10% of a page's space, as per the city license for JacksonHeights.nyc. (See Advertising Placement options below.)
- We keep an eye on blockchain and the Civil platform to facilitate collaboration, see Nieman Labs on Civil.
- We start with the assumption that it is unlikely that a neighborhood information sharing network will generate adequate revenue to hire a full time staff member.
(Note: We're not alone in making this journalism exploration. See this innovative local media project ProjectRosie by one of Jackson Heights' own.)
News Placement on JacksonHeights.nyc
Where should "news" be published on JacksonHeights.nyc? Amongst the possibilities:
- On wiki pages similar to other content pages, with these promoted with a new "In the News" section on the JacksonHeights.nyc home page. See the current Wikipedia home page In the News for a model.
- On a separate news domain, e.g., NEWS.JacksonHeights.nyc.
Advertising Placement on JacksonHeights.nyc
Advertising on JacksonHeights.nyc is limited by the city license agreement to 10% of a page's space, as per the following.
"Advertising content or information identifying a sponsor on the Licensed Domain Names shall occupy no more than ten percent (10%) of the page content of any given page to which the Licensed Domain Names resolves and shall be located to the side of and/or under the main content of the page. All advertising and sponsorship content must comply with section 1 of this Exhibit B."
Section 1 of this Exhibit B, Prohibited Content. The Licensee may not publish any of the following types of content on any of its Licensed Domain Names:
- any intellectual property of the City of New York without the City’s prior written consent;
- any intellectual property of a third party without that third party’s prior written consent;
- campaign-related materials or partisan political materials;
- offensive sexual material, as described in New York Penal Law § 245.11, as it may be amended from time to time and/or material that contains image(s) of a person, who appears to be a minor, in a sexually suggestive dress, pose, or context;
- words that match, contain recognizable misspellings of or are otherwise recognizable variations of any of the seven words identified in Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978);
- content that violates New York City Civil Rights Law § 50 (as such statute may be may be amended from time to time), or is otherwise libelous, slanderous or defamatory material, or material constituting an invasion of privacy. Defamatory matter is a false statement that exposes a person to public contempt, ridicule, aversion or disgrace;
- promotes unlawful or illegal goods, services or activities;
- image(s) or information that demean an individual or group of individuals, on account of actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, whether children are, may or would be residing with such victim, marital status, partnership status, disability, or alienage or citizenship status as such categories are defined in § 8-102 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York (as it may be amended from time to time) or, for those categories not there defined, as they are commonly understood;
- implies or declares an endorsement by DoITT or the City of the Licensee, a particular project, purpose or point of view, without the City’s prior written consent;
- promotion of tobacco or tobacco-related products or e-cigarettes;
- direct promotion of the sale of alcohol or alcohol-related products; or
- promotion of gambling, gambling establishment or a gambling website.
To kick off this initiative we will sponsor a contest, with the Edward R. Murrow press card (see photo) as prize. The contest will be won by the person who first publishes a appropriate news story on news.JacksonHeights.nyc.
The Edward R. Murrow Prize
The 1959 press card of CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow has been donated to the JacksonHeights.nyc initiative. The card was signed by Charles Campbell, secretary and ?, president of the Working Press Association. Like the NHL's Stanley Cup, contest winners will have eternal bragging rights and take possession of the card for a one year period.
Related Wiki Pages
- Knight Foundation
- September 25, 2017 Information War Op Ed NYT
- Toward Civic Journalism Hackathons
- Journalism That Matters - classroom
- Local news coverage decimated - Columbia Journalism Review 11-3-2017
- Civil, a blockchain media
- WikiTribune - Jimmy Wales' latest global effort.
- Collaborative Financing Method
- Tools for developing digital media]
- Dirt protocol]