One of the more recent innovations in journalism has been the introduction of hyperlocal news sites, such as AOL’s Patch.com. Hyperlocal news allows consumers to get up-to-date news and entertainment focused on individual towns, villages, or even neighborhoods, giving the reader a much more intimate experience than they would normally have received via traditional, metropolitan-and-national-based news. But what is the next step in the progression of hyperlocal media?
A recent commentary by Dan Rodricks of the Baltimore Sun suggests that, while not explicitly mentioning the term ‘hyperlocal’, many people would love to see “…in-depth, daily looks at what’s going on in all facets of life in Maryland. Any time of day, you could turn to this channel and see and hear what’s happening in your state, your city, your town, even maybe your next-door neighbor’s house.” Is hyperlocal television on the horizon for news consumers?
According to Rodricks, hyperlocal television programming might look something like this:
“5-9 a.m.: A morning news/talk show, with the setting a large table in a restaurant, with two hosts holding court, talking about the overnight news, debriefing local reporters, taking calls from viewers. Brief weather and traffic reports, but in the main, conversation about the top local news.
9-10 a.m.: A newsmaker interview at a local coffee shop. Simple format: The host has a cup of coffee with a government official, business leader or community activist engaged in an issue of public interest. Calls, emails, Tweets from viewers.
10-11 a.m.: A home-front reality show with all kinds of possibilities — a weeklong visit to a busy Maryland household, a look into the life of a single mom, or a day-care center, or a home-school family.
11 a.m.-noon: A daily visit to the kitchen of a Baltimore or suburban restaurant to see lunch coming together.
Noon-2 p.m.: A daily talk show about life in Baltimore and Maryland. Hosts on a couch, with a parade of guests and topics, calls, emails from viewers. Low-cost production — essentially a radio show with a couple of robotic cameras.
2-3 p.m.: a daily visit to a family farm or vineyard somewhere in Maryland. There are videographers now toiling in TV news operations who would love this opportunity to follow a farmer or vintner and his workers through their daily chores, conversations and challenges.
3-4 p.m.: school of the week — a daily window into the operations of any K-12 school in Maryland. Mike up and follow a teacher or principal through a day.
4-5 p.m.: What’s cooking for dinner — a visit to someone’s house as the evening meal is prepared. A fun, slice-of-life show featuring a different home every day.
5-6 p.m.: Maryland’s business — mike up the owner of a small business and take a tour of a local company, from a florist to software developer, from a mechanic to the manager of a small manufacturing operation.
6-7 p.m.: Maryland politics — a lively, nightly talk show, with live conversations with legislators in Annapolis, a county executive or commissioner, or citizens who are mobilizing for some civic good. Calls, emails from viewers.
7-8 p.m.: Sports — a daily reality show about the players and coaches of a local high school or college team as it moves through a season.
8-9 p.m.: A different day-in-the-life show each night — let’s say, a nurse on Monday, a Baltimore cop on Tuesday, a hotel concierge on Wednesday, a college professor on Thursday, a Chesapeake waterman on Friday.
9-10 p.m.: Live local music from a Baltimore club, bar or concert hall.
10-11 p.m.: A recap of the day’s top regional news, with two hosts taking calls from listeners.
11-midnight: Live from a bar or diner, the Baltimore area’s own late-night talk show hosted by a rotation of local DJs, comics and commentators who conduct live interviews and take calls. Then, it’s good night, hon.”
It’s a very interesting approach to a popular medium. Millions of Americans already consume reality television in nauseating doses. Personally, I’d like to leave the news to the news people. Hearing Joe Shmo down the street opine about the most pressing issues affecting our society isn’t particularly interesting to me, because I could just as easily ask him about it; not to mention, I really don’t care what Joe Shmo has to say about the subject, because he’s Joe Shmo. I like to hear my news from experts and those who thoroughly understand the issues. Understandbly, these people are not living in every neighborhood. Television has increasingly become strictly a form of entertainment for Americans, rather than a medium for news. Generally, many Americans try to escape the dull monotony of life by turning on the television for a few hours, ironically escaping their lives via something we like to call ‘reality television’. Hyperlocal television would just add fuel to the fire. I believe millions of people would obsess over it, which is why I hope it never happens, for the sake of our society.