New York City neighborhoods have never had the luxury of good local communications. This page asks when and how the digital era will provide them. It asks the opportunity for some new form of journalism focused on neighborhood needs is now. Note: This page uses the word journalism expansively, to include sharing information through interactions such as convened face-to-face and online meetings that explore key questions and big ideas that will shape the future of Jackson Heights.
To begin... Historically, New York City neighborhoods have had limited power. One limit has been the lack of meaningful, locally controlled and focused, mass media: TV, radio, and newspapers. Look at following table comparing media resources in two similarly sized geographic areas, Jackson Heights and Terre Haute, Indian.
Terre Haute, Indiana Jackson Heights Population 105,000 100,000 TV Stations 2 0 Daily Newspapers 1 0 Radio Stations 8 0
Today, with a variety of digital media available to residents, local communication capacity has expanded. However, some express concern that the ease of publishing and consequent media ocean leaves us drifting, with the Internet cloud having descended as FOG.
A foundation goal of the JacksonHeights.nyc Initiative is to serve as a touchpoint for neighborhood communication resources.
Six Things Journalism Does For Democracy
Six things Columbia journalism professor Michael Schudson sees news currently doing for democracy are presented in order of their frequency – as a result, 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.
Neighborhood-Supportive 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. This disrupted traditional media operations with layoffs, consolidations, and closings. Some still serve Jackson Heights, as does some digital media - see Neighborhood Media.
To fill the void left by traditional media and 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.
In considering the potential of JacksonHeights.nyc as a platform for a neighborhood information sharing network, the following are worth considering.
- From an intuitive standpoint, JacksonHeights.nyc offers some clear identity advantages, "Yes, I can remember that."
- One consideration in designing a neighborhood-supportive journalism is the trust that will be added through the JacksonHeights.nyc Initiative's expected use of blockchain technology. This will add accountability and facilitate collaboration. For one example see Nieman Labs on Civil.
- Advertising can occupy 10% of a page's space as per the city license for JacksonHeights.nyc.
- It is unlikely that a neighborhood information sharing network could generate adequate revenue to hire a full time staff member.
Journalism Placement on JacksonHeights.nyc
Where could a "news" element be published on JacksonHeights.nyc? There are several possibilities:
- As individual wiki pages alongside other content pages.
- Place a "new news" section on the JacksonHeights.nyc home page. (This is the Wikipedia practice - see In the News.)
- Separated the news by domain name, e.g., NEWS.JacksonHeights.nyc.
What activities might we take to experiment with a neighborhood journalism iteration?
A collaborative wiki-like approach seems most likely at this time. The emphasis should not be placed on the creation of a journalism position, as generating sufficient revenue for such is extremely iffy, at best. (Note that we're not alone in making this exploration.. see this innovative local media project ProjectRosie by a Jackson Heights resident.)
To bolster such an effort we might sponsor a contest to encourage attention with the Edward R. Murrow press card (below) as prize.
This press card of Edward R. Murrow has been donated. Signed by Charles Campbell, secretary and ?, president of the Working Press Association.