In Dayton, we have DaytonOS- and why.

The New York Times has a piece on local websites taking the place of the local newspaper. It’s not something I want to see, but, since the Dayton Daily News has almost given up on real journalism, I think it’s a trend we need to watch:

A number of Web start-up companies are creating so-called hyperlocal news sites that let people zoom in on what is happening closest to them, often without involving traditional journalists.

The sites, like EveryBlock, Outside.in, Placeblogger and Patch, collect links to articles and blogs and often supplement them with data from local governments and other sources. They might let a visitor know about an arrest a block away, the sale of a home down the street and reviews of nearby restaurants.

via ‘Hyperlocal’ Web Sites Deliver News Without Newspapers – NYTimes.com.

A few of us started DaytonOS.com to provide a local starting point as a hyperlocal site- gathering feeds from local bloggers plus giving the general public a place where they could publish their own content without having to start a site. Site traffic still has a way to go, but, it’s a start.

The problem with the hyperlocal site is the same problem that the Dayton Daily News is having- as they lay off or buy-out veteran journalists: the institutional knowledge and networks are fading. Great journalism doesn’t just happen- it comes from knowing your subject matter and having great sources. Woodward and Bernstein wouldn’t have broken Watergate if they were just rookies.

We also can’t count on public officials to generate good reliable content. Trying to read police reports reminds me of trying to decipher the writings of a fifth grader, and most legal filings are even more obtuse.

At some point, we’re going to realize that we’re going to miss real reporters and have to find a new mechanism to pay them. Because, as this part-time amateur reporter can tell you, it’s a lot of time and work to keep publishing without a paycheck.

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3 Comments on "In Dayton, we have DaytonOS- and why."

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Greg Hunter
Greg Hunter
David I wish I could express what my brain thinks in a way that people understand. I cannot write well, but I certainly can figure things out. If I have access to the data then we could really write some interesting, informative and quirky news. Today I was linked to the MacNeil/Lehrer report on Dayton and the Arts scene through a “Friend” on Facebook. I learned more about Dayton, its finances and its troubles than I ever have from the DDN or WHIO. Now one could say I have not been paying attention, but I would dispute that accusation. ? I think I learned more for three reasons: 1. The reporter actually asked the right questions 2. They asked the right people the questions. 3. The reputation of the questioner was held in high regard (MacNeil/Lehrer) so the questioners answered, candidly. Now what happened to that kind of reporting in Dayton? I think you touch on some of those subjects. Here are my take on the issues: 1. The news division was forbidden to offend the advertisers – This is the biggest problem first and foremost. Bloggers and other content providers are “somewhat” free from this restriction, as they make no money and have not been beaten down by the boss for posting local news an opinion. The slippery slope of bowing to the pressure of advertisers comes home to roost if the paper never said anything negative about the industries that generated most of their revenue. Over the last 10 years that has been real estate, autos and other retailers. If the newspaper could not afford the loss of 50% of the advertising revenue every time they ran a story, then they should be out of business. A newspaper builds loyalty by saying the “right” things at least some of the time. But the news papers and TV will always say “no one saw this coming”. There are plenty that saw this (insert – housing crisis, oil boom, car crunch, credit crunch) coming, but the papers did not want to offend and we as a community suffer. 2. The… Read more »
Larkin

Aw shucks, David. Very nice.  The story of Heather Walker can’t be found on that site. It, along with a piece I did about the Kafka-esque horror story of Heather and Doron Walker and their two dead children is at Steve Huff’s old website  True Crime Weblog.

http://www.truecrimeweblog.com/2008/05/lost-girl-by-larkin-vonalt.html

http://www.truecrimeweblog.com/2008/05/end-of-world-by-larkin-vonalt.html

Steve is probably the pre-eminent crime blogger ever. So  much so that he has been paid for appearances on court tv and the like. Finally, he took a paying gig, running True Crime Report for the Village Voice media, a much more restrictive venue and much the poorer for it. Still, people have to eat. When I do “job writing” it’s rare that I write what I really think, and that’s about par for the business. 

Here are a couple of true crime stories from my own blog:

http://athousanddays.wordpress.com/2009/03/19/murder-up-the-street/

— and not Dayton, but Xenia, and effing unbelievable:

http://athousanddays.wordpress.com/2009/03/25/breathless/

It’s interesting to me that the double murder up the block from us got very little play and the neighborhood got smeared in the process, yet the murder two weeks ago on North Main got coverage several days running with nary a mention of the character of the neighborhood. The real punch line? This, my neighborhood (Lower Historic Daytonview- Wright/Dunbar) is in reality the safest neighborhood in the city. You don’t have to take my word for it, the Dayton Police Department will tell you the same. 

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