As newsrooms across the globe are shrinking, reporters are increasingly stretched to cover everything that is going on. While a lot of news outlets have made the decision to be more local-focused, they are still stretched and often fail to cover topics that matter to me. Today when I am looking for a restaurant recommendation I tend to read a friend’s blog (she is a chef and a true foodie). When I want to know the latest on my favorite sports teams back home I tend to check a fan’s blog (Let’s Go Buffalo Bills!) since he seems to have better inside scoop than the local newspaper. And if I want to know how the local political races are leaning, I log on to my favorite political junkie blog.
Outside.In totally gets the importance of blogs in providing valuable local content. The site, which is attracting a large number of investors and has just linked up with CNN to provide content for its website, creates a newsfeed for local communities, aggregating information from traditional media and the blogosphere. Outside.In currently has more than 4,000 bloggers covering more than 50,000 neighborhoods across the US (sadly nothing international yet).
The founder of Outside.In, Mark Jospheson, recently did an interview for Econsultancy’s blog. The most interesting comment he made was about how the local news market is now really an ecosystem. His point is that bloggers are no longer “outside” news sources, but instead are an integral part of the media market. If I were a journalist, this would make me nervous.
The Outside.In model seems like one that has great potential for growth worldwide. As more “writers” share their insights online, the quality of non-professional content has skyrocketed. I think this is especially in terms of local news and very specialized topics – like my friend’s cooking blog. Qatar Living does a solid job of sharing local information in a forum format, but there is certainly room for more in-depth insight from the blogosphere – if they are allowed to be open and honest.