Over the last few years, the internet and its giants have thrown their hats into the ring of controlling local news online. There is no dominant winner yet and there may not be in this space for various reason. The other issue is the word “control” and what this means. Is there goal just to trade one master (current newspapers and news channels) for another one in digital form (Yahoo Local, Google Local, etc). Outside of being online, is this really any better for us, the local consumers and residents. Probably not. If anything, it just allows them to fine tune their advertising models since they have our local information in-house now. Have you noticed that when you search for a product or website and then switch to another site, their ads now pop up for you? Now imagine on a local basis where they know where you live. It’s getting a little scary. Let’s take a look at this battle for local news and see how the Zipper and it’s decentralized approach might be the best one for you and for the freedom of local news.
So the battle is on for local news and the players are anything but local. Big players. Huge companies…some of them are among the biggest corporations in the world and they all have one interest in common…to become your sole source of all local news. It’s actually interesting that the digital world has resisted such incursions so far into the local news space. Why hasn’t Google been able to corner this area with the same success they garnered for search. Why hasn’t YahooLocal been able to extend their news coverage from national and international sources to your Yahoo home page? Probably a better question is why hasn’t local newspaper really become a daily online hub for a majority of Americans. I’m more likely to check out New York Times or Wall Street Journal articles than I am the local online newspaper here. I’m even more likely to real articles by international news aggregators like Reuters or AP. What gives? Great question and believe me, many very high paid employees at all these companies are asking the same one.
Part of it has to do with peculiarity of local news. It’s just to hard to create and aggregate information at such a small scale. Yahoo Local can’t possibly have “reporters” in every local news area. Even the local newspapers are having difficulty (with budget cuts and staff reduction) to adequately cover their local areas above the pivotal or sensational local news story. It’s their community! How is Google or Yahoo going to accomplish this if the local newspaper is struggling to? They won’t. There’s too much information out there and although it’s very important to a small number of local people, there’s no scale in that calculus. Call it the industrialization of news. The big company’s can’t figure out a way to scale down that to so many local news regions. It can’t come from the top down. Enter the Zipper smart phone app.
The information has to come from the bottoms up. It must be generated by the local communities themselves and self-policed. Google and Yahoo can’t or don’t want to do this as it fosters the lack of control. The Zipper does not have this concern and the trade-off of control for local news content generation is one it’s willing to make. There is truly a freedom of the flow of information and the most important local news stories will reach their most interested viewers via this tool. So as the big companies continue to use bunker bombs to open an egg shell (or thousands of eggshells), we’ll let the individual local creators and consumers of local news delicately make the omellte. Okay, that was a terrible metaphor but you get the picture.
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