Reporting for a hyperlocal publication is not without its challenges. For one, it can be difficult for journalists covering hyperlocal news events to find enough relevant information and quality sources to generate the types of comprehensive articles and reports that readers find useful. As a result, reporters who work for local online publications have begun to rely more heavily on data, maps, images, and videos when telling stories and breaking news in their communities.
Here are seven tools that hyperlocal journalists can use to streamline the process of gathering data and generating the types of multiplatform content that readers embrace.
Geofeedia is a tool that hyperlocal reporters can use to find photos, tweets, and other user generated content based on location and time. A journalist who is looking for information about a bomb scare at a local university, for example, can draw a circle around any area on a map to see all the content being posted by users within that area in real-time. This content can then be filtered by keyword, to pinpoint the specific tweets and photos about the event in question. For these tools, Geofeedia charges organizations $1,450 a month for up to five users.
Reporters can use SeeClickFix to find out what issues are really impacting readers in their local communities. The hyperlocal crowdsourcing platform encourages citizens to report problems and issues in their neighborhoods. By signing up for real-time alerts, journalists can find out immediately when their readers report issues that they should cover. SeeClickFix also gives reporters a way to communicate with the citizens who’ve reported these issues through the digital platform, which is helpful when finding local sources and eyewitness accounts. SeeClickFix offers free, ad-supported tools for most media companies. Larger sites can license the company’s ad-free widgets.
Blottr is a “people powered news service” that residents can use to report on breaking news events in their own neighborhoods. Community members can submit eyewitness accounts, images, and videos to Blottr using their smartphones or through the Blottr site, making sure to include the exact address where the event in question took place. Hyperlocal journalists can use Blottr for story research, or to find first-hand sources for articles they’re working on. The application is free to use for both citizen journalists and professional reporters.
4. Local Angle
Developed by the Knight News Innovation Lab at Northwestern University, Local Angle is a platform that journalists can use to find local angles on national stories. Reporters click on the states where they live, then scroll through cities to find their own. Local Angle identifies any names mentioned in recent national news stories, and then uses this data to categorize stories by city. A reporter using Local Angle to localize a national story about a salmonella outbreak, for example, might discover that the meat being recalled was processed by a company in his community. Local Angle is free to use.
Journalists can use Storify to curate social media content and share interactive stories with their readers online. Hyperlocal journalists can use the platform to find tweets, YouTube videos, Flickr images, and other social media content being posted near their current locations, and then organize that content into interactive stories. A reporter researching a local strike could find tweets from union members, Instagram images taken during the event, and YouTube videos uploaded by people passing by the scene. This content could then be organized into a timeline that could be embedded into any blog or website. Storify is free to use.
Reporters who focus on targeted areas or beats can use TweetChart to dig into the information that other people are posting on Twitter. By looking closely at the last week’s worth of tweets, TweetChart can determine which words, users, sources, and hashtags have been mentioned the most in relation to virtually any topic. A reporter covering the Belltown neighborhood in Seattle, for example, could use TweetChart to determine which hastags were used most frequently in the past week. Based on this information, the reporter might choose to cover a recent crime spree or a particular local event. TweetChart is free to use.
Hyperlocal publications that publish photos submitted by readers can save time by using a platform like Montabe. Montabe automatically processes photos sent in via email and upload forms, as well as submissions from social media sites and MMS, and handles any cropping or resizing issues before publishing them in visual galleries. Reporters and editors can also use Montabe to track who’s submitting photos to their sites and which images are getting the most clicks. Montabe charges $99 per month for its Media pricing plan, which includes an unlimited number of photos and contributors, and up to 13 photo galleries.
Know of other reporting tools that hyperlocal journalists should use? Leave a description in the comments.
Stephanie Miles is associate editor at Street Fight.