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Journalism Moves Online in Virginia

By Corrigan Blanchfield | June 22, 2011 | No Comments

As a resident of York County, I’m fortunate enough to read the James River Journal, an online-only publication dealing specifically with my hometown and the area surrounding it. While publishing the Journal as a physical paper would once have been prohibitively expensive, simply because of the relatively tiny readership, the entire paper can be supported online through the sale of a few ads.  This speaks to trends that will impact policy and politics alike.

For years now, much has been made of the decline of “old media” - physical editions of newspapers, weekly news magazines, and the like. While the Internet is clearly becoming the primary hub of national and global news media, the methods by which news spreads online are varied, with no single source yet dominating.

Many trends of traditional media have transferred to the online world, especially the oft-criticized tendency of cable news programs to reduce reports and coverage of speeches to brief “sound bite.” The clear online analogue to this is the rise of Twitter as a news source. While it is common practice for a news organization to “tweet” a headline and a link to the full article that follows, many people simply scan the headlines posted by several news organizations that they follow, gaining a cursory knowledge of the day’s events but often missing details.

While the ever-shrinking news source may be a cause for concern, the extremely low cost of internet publishing has given rise to an even newer trend: the hyperlocal online daily newspaper.

While the business model of the Journal and other papers like it may not place the owner on the path to becoming a media magnate, the importance of these sorts of publications should not be understated. While such local news was once the sole domain of word-of-mouth reporting, the Journal provides a valuable community news resource that any of its readers are able to contribute to easily - a characteristic unique to publications of this scale. I welcome a future characterized by in-depth reporting of news at all levels, and hope that papers like the Journal continue to spread across the nation.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of members of the NDP Steering Committee.

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