The future of local news is “civic information”

Earlier this week, Twitter cut off the tsunami alerts of the National Weather Service as well as more than a dozen other alert and warning services from public agencies. While most of these systems were later re-instated, the capricious actions of  Twitter makes it clear that it cannot be trusted to be a reliable source of essential, life-saving information.

Even local news can no longer be relied upon to provide essential information for its community. Where I live, the municipal council endorsed the federal government’s Bill C-18 which can only be described as an extortion scheme. C-18 is designed to extract millions of dollars from Google and Facebook for the privilege of sharing links from “Canadian” news companies that are 98% foreign-owned.  The most likely outcome is, rather than pay ransom, these social media systems will simply stop sharing these links.

Public agencies and non-profit organizations need to invest in systems that can let their communities directly know of the work and the opportunities that they provide.

“Too much time and energy has been spent propping up and mourning the declining legacy systems,” the report’s lead authors — Chalkbeat’s Elizabeth Green, City Bureau’s Darryl Holliday, and Free Press’s Mike Rispoli — write…

“The opportunity now is to shepherd and accelerate a transition to this emergent civic media system. This new ecosystem looks different from what it will replace: while the commercial market rewarded information monopolies, what is emerging now are pluralistic networks in which information is fluid, services are shared, and media is made in cooperation with the people it seeks to serve”.

The quotes above are sourced from a Nieman Lab story entitled, “The future of local news is “civic information,” not “declining legacy systems,” says new report. How could I resist this byline: “In this vision, the community librarian facilitating conversations around authoritative, trusted digital news is as celebrated as the dogged reporter pursuing a scoop.”

The report in question, The Roadmap for Local News: An Emergent Approach to Meeting Civic Information Needs can be found at this link:

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