Resurrecting online news in Seward Neighborhood (Minneapolis, MN) or “the hyperlocal beat”

Seward Neighborhood on the east side of Minneapolis and bordering the Mississippi River, has had a community newspaper, the Seward Profile then The Bridge (and more recently the Bridgeland online news site), for a long, long time. (The Profile may have been the first community newspaper in Minneapolis. I’m still trying to verify that.) In 2009, due to finances, the newspaper ceased publication and the online site stopped updating. Seward was left with no distributed news source.

The Seward Neighborhood Group (SNG) sends out an email biweekly newsletter which covers SNG meetings and a few community events. The Seward Neighbors Forum is another news source with a total subscription base of about 300 (Seward population is 7,000.) (I co-manage the Forum.) Even with these, there is a news hole.

The SNG plans on publishing and delivering a quarterly news sheet of some kind in 2010. This will help but I think we still need to find a way to “report” more on what’s going on in the neighborhood and even dig out the small events which could benefit from wider exposure. Of course, I think the Internet is probably the best way to do this so on December 18, I launched the Seward Profile News Blog.

It’s my hope that we can use the news blog as a source for print stories in the quarterly news sheet. But beyond that, I think we are at a tipping point in providing current and relevant news online and keeping it very, very local (or hyperlocal which is a somewhat new term for this sort of thing).

Of course to do this, you still need some kind of editing structure and you need some reporters or journalists out there sending in stories. My plan is to enlist folks in the community (anyone interested really) to provide the news. To start, I’ll serve as editor, but long-term, I’d like to see a community person take on that role and somehow find funding for a stipend (maybe $200 a month?).

The qualifications of the “citizen journalists” I’m looking for are very basic, especially on the technology side. First, you can write engagingly and you are interested in the neighborhood. As for “professional journalism” qualifications, you can learn them as necessary. The main ones are don’t write fiction and source all your statements or clearly mark them as opinion.

As for the technology side, a new (free) blogging tool is emerging called Posterous and if you know how to email, you can post to the news blog. (If you don’t know how to email, I’ll teach you.) Posterous is an amazing new type of blog called a “microblog” which is set up to allow very quick posting. If you want to add photos, simply attach them and Posterous will display them with your piece. Same with video. This ease of publishing should see Posterous being used more and more for small group and community blogging. No other service currently offers the ease of use of Posterous.

I have applied to the Knight News Challenge for funding of this project. I want to create a kind of turnkey system for communities to use to establish an online news blog. I’ll also be seeking other funding as soon as I find a fiscal agent. (Knight News Challenge doesn’t limit proposals to only nonprofits so I could apply for that one as myself.)

I once had a dream of becoming an editor and publisher for a small newspaper. The web and blogging has somewhat allowed me to fulfill that dream. This step takes me a bit closer.

One thought on “Resurrecting online news in Seward Neighborhood (Minneapolis, MN) or “the hyperlocal beat”

  1. hollycairns

    Hi Peter,My great grandfather built a house on 29th and my grandma’s mom lived in a flat near Franklin and Cedar. Grandma is still alive and at a highrise in Mpls, not far from there. It would be great to hear about events from around there, thanks

    Reply

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