Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Zombie Journalism: Newsrooms should promote ‘reading local’

Blogging at Zombie Journalism, Mandy Jenkins suggests that as outsourced news grows, local newsrooms should promote buying (and reading) local.

Jenkins cites a story, broadcast by This American Life, about the “hyperlocal news company” Journatic, which uses a “largely foreign workforce to assemble local data, rewrite press releases and parrot online obituaries for eventual publication on local and hyperlocal news sites from likes of the Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle and Newsday.”

Having similarly argued for the value of supporting journalists who live and work in the communities they cover, I agree with Jenkins that exposure of Journatic provides a tremendous opportunity to people who work in local news: “It is up to us to show our readers where we’re coming from.”

As Jenkins states:
“‘Buying American’ and ‘Shopping Local’ have become a priority to some American consumers on goods from clothes to veggies – so why not newspapers? We should encourage our readers to ‘Read Local’.
“For local journalists, there is no better time to show our readers that we are them. We live in the same neighborhoods. We shop at the same grocery stores. We attend the same local festivals and root for the same football teams. Our kids attend the same schools. We may have even gone to high school together.”
Jenkins offers several suggestions for journalists to engage with their readers: sharing observations on social media, writing or contributing to a blog, holding live chats with readers and meeting readers in person.

“Being there,” Jenkins states,  “will give us more than any outsourced news factory could ever hope to replicate. This is our strength – and we need to take better advantage of it.”


  1. The suggestions seem to boil down to "abandon the View From Nowhere in everything you do EXCEPT the main thing you do: reporting." Why not take it all the way?

    1. Sorry; I am not sure I understand the connection between Ms. Jenkins’ suggestions about “Read local” and the practice of presenting opposing parties’ views as if they have equal validity. I welcome further elaboration upon this point, should you care to present it.


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