Why our small-town daily is adding a full-time curator

We’re adding a full-time curator position at The Register Citizen.

Jenny Golfin, whose duties have included morning shift web updating, social media management and reporting, will be devoted full-time to this new role. Her mission will be to provide our audience with links to breaking and comprehensive news and information relevant to their community and interests. Putting the reader first, she’ll link out to blogs, Twitter feeds, YouTube videos and even the work of our longest-standing “traditional” competitors, not just to content produced by our staff writers at The Register Citizen, or by sister Journal Register Company publications in Connecticut.

Why does a local paper our size need, and how does it justify, having a full-time curator on staff?

Well, 10 years ago, it was us, a competing daily newspaper a few towns to our south, a local radio station with a morning news report and the TV stations from Hartford and New Haven.

Scarcity of news sources. High demand for information. Let the good times roll.

Today, our audience turns to thousands of niche websites, blogs and online hyperlocal startups devoted to a single town, neighborhood or interest. Patch.com is arriving on the scene as big media (AOL)’s attempt to scale hyperlocal across a national footprint. The audience itself is now the biggest source of local information out there, equipped with mobile smart phones, free WordPress and Blogger accounts and YouTube logins.

And audience members’ connections to each other via Facebook, Twitter and other social media trump connections, if there are any, between audience member and legacy media brand.

In Torrington, we’ve established a Community Media Lab, partnering with local bloggers and niche online sites. Similar efforts across our sister publications have established a network of more than 1,000 citizen blogging partners across Journal Register Company.

We have computer workstations loaded with open-source blogging and video editing software in our open newsroom for citizen journalists and bloggers to use. We offer free classes and workshops in our newsroom classroom, including “Blogging 101” and how-to’s on social media, video production and journalism basics.

In December, we established a community engagement editor position, in part, to partner with and train bloggers and citizen journalists.

The curator position will help us share that work with our audience, and make sense of the exploding range of information sources out there. Jenny’s first assignment was to study the work of Andy Carvin, the NPR staffer who has provided some of the best coverage of the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya over the past few months in a very non-traditional way. Carvin has used his Twitter feed to curate the Tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos and blog posts of eyewitnesses in real time.

She’ll use tools such as lists and hashtags on Twitter and Google Reader and Google Alerts to find and present content relevant to Northwest Connecticut communities and to niche interests including moms from Litchfield County, local and statewide politics and local arts and entertainment.

Another goal of our new curator position will be to make sure that our original content contains links out to referenced and additional information. Failing to link remains a big failure of traditional print media, and we aim to fix it on our sites.

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9 thoughts on “Why our small-town daily is adding a full-time curator

  1. Very good approach! It is truly nice to see newspapers start to embrace the future. The old rules no longer apply, the new game will swallow up those not ready to conform to the speed and change we now experience.

    Like

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