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A snapshot of community journalism around the country

I've been doing some research for a Berkman project called Media Cloud, and I've come across a lot of sad little local news websites, even in big cities like Dallas, TX. Being small community papers and such, they're drastically under-funded, some of the sites not including any content at all other than contacts and advertising info. What I've found so far - and what I'm likely to continue to find even more of as I explore sites in even smaller markets - made me really appreciate this community and in particular, this website.

That being said, it's hard to believe that the news station I interned for in college - channel 4 in New York - followed up on the network execs' promise and all but did away with their moniker WNBC. In an effort to get on the hyper-local bandwagon, they're now branded as "NBC New York" and their new website's homepage is unafraid to boast weather, traffic, sports, and goings on around the town instead of anything that could pass as legitimate news - until you scroll down the page. If you want to "send [them] your city pics," search upcoming events or vote in a "quick poll," this is the destination for you.

What confuses me most is that this station is part of the largest market in the country, which is supposed to cover a lot more than Manhattan - much of the tri-state area, in fact. It's one thing to be hyper-local.. quite another to neglect certain coverage areas. Though when I remind myself that this move was made entirely for profit reasons, I suppose I'm not that confused....

Well, I won't go on and on since this is not terribly relevant to the Cambridge community, but it does provide a great example of why community media is so important right now. Those who are worried about profit don't seem to stand much of a chance at providing their communities with any hard-hitting or substantive journalism at all. NeighborMedia journalists, press on!