This podcast features an interview with Courtney Hollands of WickedLocal.com. WickedLocal is a citizen journalism initiative that is a companion to the Old Colony Memorial newspaper of Plymouth, Massachusetts (Yes, the one with the famous rock).
Hollands discusses how Wicked Local mixes pro content from the Old Colony Memorial and other papers in the region that are part of the same chain with citizen-contributed content. Photos and sports are particularly popular, she says — and Wicked Local has come up with an interesting spin on contributed and staff photos: allowing visitors to buy prints of photos.
I found Hollands’ discussion of the videoblog that she produces for the site particularly interesting: to say that this popular feature is produced on a shoestring is probably an overstatement. A lot of what Wicked Local is doing emphasizes the fact that some of the best innovations are the least expensive. This isn’t to say no money is being spent: the site uses commercial software from Prospero and Spotted, a web app that allows photo uploads with social networking features; and commercial grade products such as these aren’t cheap. However, this investment has passed on unintended benefits, in the form of creating the fastest, easiest way for reporters working alongside Hollands to get breaking news onto the web quickly.
WickedLocal may have touched off local competition for community initiatives — or, at least, the talent that created Wicked Local is being dispersed regionally. Memorial Press Group/Enterprise News Media, which owned the Old Colony and Wicked Local up until July, was bought by Gatehouse Media, which simultaneously bought several regional dailies and the Community Newspaper Company, which publishes 80+ dailies and weeklies in the Greater Boston area. Not long after, Bob Kempf, who held the reins at Enterprise while Wicked Local was taking shape, has moved to the Boston Globe’s Boston.com. Boston.com launched a whopping 27 blogs earlier this year: does hiring Kempf mean community initiatives are next? And how will Gatehouse, whose local weeklies compete directly with the Globe’s zoned editions in the suburbs, respond?
Here’s a link: Center for Citizen Media Podcast: Conversation with Courtney Hollands. Thanks to Courtney and to Colin Rhinesmith, who hosts our podcasts at Audio Berkman, where you can find all sorts of fascinating stuff from the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.