Hyperlocal journalism encourages change

There’s a lot happening in the world, some of it positive and exciting, some of it negative and frightening. It might sound cliché, as it mostly always has, but the 21st century often seems to be the best of times and the worst of times to be alive. 

In these times it’s imperative to be aware of what’s happening, good and bad, in order to make smart choices and to be ready to make positive impacts wherever it’s possible. But unfortunately, too often, the news and information that swirls around on the internet, on social media, on cable news and on the airwaves quickly pulls attention away from what is happening right here at home. 

Local journalism has been on the decline in recent years. Some commentators point to 24-hour cable news channels as the culprits with their ceaseless need for worldwide shocking content to fill the many hours of otherwise dull programming. Also, large money-making media conglomerates have been greedily buying up small town papers to fill with contributed national content. 

Fundamentally, though, it falls to the consumer, each individual citizen, to decide where their attention will turn and what news they will deem most important and thereby bolster. For several reasons, it’s the opinion of this editorial staff that attention should generally be turned to the local stage. 

Change and positive impact often happen locally. But local analysis and involvement are only possible when paired with local awareness of issues and news and insight into the citizens making positive waves and the power players being a little too self-serving. 

General awareness of local community issues is the cornerstone of local change and given that local change involves one’s neighbors, family and friends it’s conceivable that awareness and understanding of local stories and struggles can lead to personal change. Given enough time local and personal change can stretch out to broader national or international change.

Also, it’s important to realize that though there are problems everywhere, if all that is seen is a collection of all the ugly things happening everywhere broadcast by for-profit media organizations it can block from view the good that is happening most places and most importantly it can block from view the good that is happening right here locally. 

Zooming in further, there is also the buzzword concept of hyperlocal news, which is news occurring in or uniquely important to a well-defined community, for example, the campuses of Kirkwood Community College. 

What happens here can have an impact on students’ academic success, personal growth and future careers. Being aware of campus news and events can lead to campus involvement, celebration of student success and where needed nudging bureaucracy towards necessary positive changes. 

Kirkwood is filled with students, staff and professors of all different walks of life. There are students from different cultures, different countries, different belief systems and different dreams. Listening to each other’s stories and challenges can lead to the type of change that only occurs when people on different paths to the same goals can find ways to reach shared paths or at least find windows into parallel paths. 

So, search out local news and hyperlocal news, with its nuance and diversity. This news can lead to personal and local change and improvement right now. 

Pick up a copy of a local newspaper, consider joining the Communique to both learn about and cover campus news, web search Kirkwood and eastern Iowa news and talk to the person sitting one desk over in class. What’s learned can pave the way for lasting impact.

Categories: Opinion, Staff Editorials