Friday, March 31, 2006

Your Hub blossoms, but ...

Newpapers & Technology has a piece on how Your Hub, the Denver Newspaper Agency's hyper-local journalism site, is blossoming with sites now in six states. Not so recently, it was one of those cited by Tom Grubisich in his much-debated criticism of some cit-j sites.

I'm glad to see Your Hub -- and its model of using the Web-submitted content to produce a print product -- spreading. And yet, as one of those behind the local site, I have a little unease. Is it possible that those propagating Your Hub don't get it? Can we have hyper-local news sites when they are cookie-cutter stamped from a template?

It is that uniqueness, quirkiness and point of view that make places like so much reflections of their communities. Will we once again kill a good idea by trying to mindlessly replicate it instead of taking the time to infuse it with the local quirks?

Jack Lail, managing editor for multimedia at the Knoxville News Sentinel seems pleased with the past year:
“We have had 2,715 stories posted, 1,305 events posted and 112 blog entries, he said, adding that the newspaper (Monday-Friday, 115,123; Saturday, 128,441; Sunday, 150,416) has more than 1,000 registered users and averages more than 60,000 page views each month.

And I guess if I'm sitting in Farragut or in Sevier County, Tenn., I might not much care that it looks the same as Clemson, Belton or Honea Path in South Carolina.

Yet, as I said, I have some vague unease that we are missing the point, much as recent newspaper design has managed to suck the life out of too many papers. I don't have the answers, but I sure have a lot of questions.


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