The News-Press in Florida has dedicated two reporters called mobile journalists, or mojos who are equipped with digital cameras, MP3 recorders and wireless laptops. Their job is to find hyper-local stories that don’t get into the newspaper and to train members of the community to file directly to the Web site. [Blogspotting]
Does that sound like a fun job, or what? I wonder what kind of stories we might get if we accepted audio reports from people throughout the states we serve? (That sound you heard was the people in our newsrooms, screaming.) I can’t beleive someone isn’t already doing this. Think Flickr but “news” audio instead of images. Upload MP3 files to a big database, tagging each one (politics, St. Louis, sports, etc). Sure, you’d get a lot of crap but people would sort that out with some kind of “trust” rating system. The better stuff would float to the top…the crap would sink to the bottom.
As a statewide radio network, we sometimes struggle to get news from areas where we have no affiliate. Would it make sense for us to be recruiting and training “citizen reporters?” We have about 60 radio station affiliates in each of the states we serve. And not all of them have full-time reporters. What if we had digital stringers in 600 cities and towns throughout the state? What if we weren’t limited to 4 minute newscasts and 10 second sound bites?
Local radio stations could building this kind of news gathering effort. I remember when newspapers featured “community highlight” columns written by people in the small towns they served. It’s probably still being done.
Okay. I’m tired of thinking about this.