Oct
2009

“At Home News”

Below is the text version of what is above:

1. What is it you are offering? What are you contributing?

I am offering an alternative to the way people currently get their news. When someone wants to know more about what’s going on in their area, they turn to their local news. The local news broadcasts on average between an hour, to two hours a night, of what is going in an area. Their websites do offer more, but only what they have time to post.

The world of journalism has been hit just as hard as the rest of the country over the last year. We’ve seen a great number of jobs cut and newsrooms loosing resources, but the still the local news needs to fill the same amount of time each night. So how is all the news we report relevant to what all the viewers needs? While we do a good job balancing the big stories of the day, there are still important stories out there we just can’t get to.

I’m offering something more personal. I call it “AtHomeNews” it’s the future of blogging and news, more personalized.

We’ve all heard the phrase “we report you decide,” but how about “you report-then you decide?” My website offers viewers the chance to tell their stories in their own words. You become the reporter, the producer, and the editor. This website is all about you and your hometown.

Based on the idea of Wikipedias’ news site, “AtHomeNews” is completely user generated. All the stories are uploaded from the user.

2. What makes you think people are looking for that? What is your evidence?

Recently CNN has been seeing a great up tick in their user-generated site called the “ireporter.” The basic idea is the same. CNN welcomes anyone who wants to be an ireporter. The user then finds a story and reports on it. If the story is really good, CNN might just use it on air.

The website has been very good for CNN and their numbers keep growing. The ireporter site has developed into a great community among the reporters who help each other out. They can rank the stories or the reporters and how good a job they are doing. They also watch out for each other and make sure comments are appropriate.

Another example is the recent launch of Hearst- Argyle’s “U-local”. U-local is a user-generated branch of all Hearst-Argyle local news station’s websites. The idea is to give viewers an outlet for their stories. The difference with this site is the expected use. Users aren’t expected to report the news of their local town, but this is more of an outlet for sharing pictures and videos of your community.

The goal for the Hearst stations is to have a place already established so if there is breaking news the viewers have a place to go to upload their video or images and the stations can get them directly. For the most part the site serves as a place for family vacation photos, sporting event updates and maybe some area fall foliage pictures. Still in it’s infant stages U-local has the potential to be a key assets to the local news.

The reason being, people are looking to have their voices heard. They want an outlet for their story. Even with newsrooms at full capacity, they can hardly tell every story that comes into their newsrooms. They just don’t have the time. But with this website the viewer has their chance to have their voice heard and get their story out there.

My site, At-Home-News is more like U-local, but with more of an emphasis on sharing local news.  In the theme of Craigslist, a user would go to my site, choose their state, and then select their town. Then they can upload their story.

The stories can range from getting the word out about a blood drive, to reporting breaking news that could be happening in their town.

3. How are you going to find and connect with those people? Why will they come to your site? Who are your direct competitors for their attention?

Getting the word out will be the toughest challenge. The appeal to the site is to work like Craigslist. Currently the options out there for user-generated sites serve a more national level and not a local level. The goal of AtHomeNews is to be all things local. A resource for anything a town may need to stay informed and share information about what is going on in their zip code.

4. What will you get from them and how? What makes them keep coming back (if that is central to your model)?

The user will be able to report their own stories. They can upload just text like a blog, video, or a podcast. Each story will have a category that it needs to fit under.

Some example would be:

Community news

Breaking news

Personal stories

Event information

Town notices

The need to get the story out and seeing whom they can connect with will keep people coming back. They will want to see any updates to the story, they will want to see if others have comments on their stories. Maybe someone else may report the same story differently, or have a follow up on a story.

5. What are the informational resources (assets) you need to host on your site? Documents? Videos? Databases? Do these already exist, or will you need to build them?

To make this site work to it’s best potential it will need to be able to host video, audio, and images. The most common personalization of the site will be text, or web text stories. They will mostly look like blogs, but should have some resemblance to web reporting.

Then there should be an option to store an archive of any of the video or images that people upload. We could link in with YouTube, or a blog system like “Wordpress” to help with the storage and the need, but in a perfect situation we should build our own.

6. How will your site be organized? How many pages will it have, and in what order? How do you move from one page to another? A sketch of a site map might be helpful here…

Craigslist has the best model for location. On their front-page the have a list of states. From there you can choose your town. I could either use this model or design something like Google Earth and allow for users to punch in their zip code then be transported to their area.

Once in their area they can then upload their story and choose their category for the story.

7. What does your site look like visually? At this stage, a sketch on a back of a napkin is fine: just something to show the layout and some of the design elements. Are there sites from which you are drawing visual queues?

Simple design. They layout should be simple and easy to navigate. My complaint on Wiki and ireport is that I can’t find anything local. If there is something happening in my town, it’s complicated to navigate to that.

-Easy use, not too complicated, easy layout. Anyone from a 16 year old to a 60-year old should understand how to use the site.

-Spell check.

-Mapping feature.

-Sharing feature, share with social media sites (Facebook, twitter).

-Upload options, video, and audio, still images.

-Browsing options, view other states news, or browse your area.

– Source confirmation, at the bottom of the page for each story, the user must make clear the source of the story.

-Phone applications, CNN just launch the ireporter iphone app. the ireporters can now upload on the go.

-Commenting, it will be up to the community to police the site and report and/or block inappropriate comments.

IF I WERE TO LAUNCH THE PROGRAM TODAY THE FOLLOWING IS HOW I SEE IT WORKING:

As the user logs on for the first time there will be a logo of a house with the sites name on it. The front door would have place to enter a zip code. Once entered the user would be re-directed to a screen with multiple windows. The top of th page would identify the location.

The side of the page would list either other towns in that surrounding zip code or simply an option to browse other areas. Before the user can take the next step, of telling their story, they will need to log in and create an account.

Most importantly in the center of the screen would be “upload your story.” Here the user has a choice of a simple text story, video upload, or even an audio upload.

The next step would be to classify the story. Is it a personal story, breaking news, traffic, events notification, general news, sports and so on. Each one of these categories will have a description in order to better explain to the user best where their story belongs. Also the idea is to not give too many options. I don’t want to confuse the viewer so they get frustrated and go away, never using the site.

Once they have classified their story, then they can move on to uploading it. Similar to a wordpress blog, they can write the text here or copy and paste it from another program. They could also upload an image, video or audio. Just like YouTube, there will be an agreement each time they upload confirming that they have the right to upload this video, audio or image.

Next up will be the confirming of the story. This will have two parts. All stories will need a source. If the story is categorized as a “personal story” then no source is needed, but this should be made clear at the bottom of the stories page. If the story is “breaking news,” the user will need to explain how it’s breaking news. Sports will need to explain the person attended the event.

Finally all stories are considered pending until the user logs into their email and confirms via a link that will be emailed to them. Something like, “are you sure you want to post this and is all of the information you are posting true?”

So there you have it a quick view of “AtHomeNews” a user generated site that focuses on local news as reported by the user.