Carson City Live, Part II

Some interesting things have been going on on Carson City Live, the local paper’s blog, this week. First off, a reporter used the blog to scoop himself, putting up a blog post on a story before the article itself was published. Of course, that just highlights this artificial lag time they’ve built into the paper’s website. They never publish articles on the website until the middle of the night, probably the same time the paper itself is printed. And so their website is only updated once a day, unless there is big breaking news like a wildfire or a bank robbery. That means most news is old and stale by the time it appears on the site at 3am. If they really wanted to get into blogging in a big way, they would publish each story as it came in, turning the whole front page into a blog. That would make the morning paper into a fishwrap version of their website, instead of the way it is now, where the website is an electronic version of the paper. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one. I think we’ll see many newspapers making this shift as time goes on. Fewer and fewer people want to wait until the morning to find out what happened yesterday.

The other news is that they’re looking at getting into video, with this blog post leaking out their plans and asking citizens to submit video if they see news happening. This is a good move, since with video cameras getting so relatively cheap, you don’t have to be a big TV station to put together video clips anymore. Carson City always gets ignored in the Reno newscasts, anyway, so it will be good to get some local stuff. And having citizens film and submit the video is a smart way to do it, although I think the costs are low enough now that there’s no reason for every reporter not to keep a video camera in his or her car along with a still camera.

And the final thing is this post, where it is obvious that Internet Editor Kirk Caraway was reading Jeff Jarvis earlier in the week. On Tuesday, Jeff wrote this:

I’ll take it down a few levels and suggest that every town board and school board should be podcast. I’ve long wanted to see local services enable citizens to video these meetings…[but] who needs to watch them? They just sit and drone. Listening would work well — especially when podcasts can be searched and indexed.

We should all storm our town halls and demand podcasts (and then politely explain what podcasts and iPods and the internet are).

And then, later the same day, this showed up on Carson City Live:

I saw an interesting article this morning about the possibility of “podcasting” the audio recordings of local meetings.

While this is one of these “wow” things, I wonder if anyone out there would really want to listen to a meeting of the Carson City Supervisors.

I’d argue, and I think Jeff would too, that it’s the city who should be doing this. They already provide transcripts, as well as show videos on cable access, so why not audio recordings? The extra effort should be trivial. But if the city won’t, somebody should. You never know when one of these meetings is going to produce some kind of important nugget, or when someone in the future might want to listen to them. Transcripts don’t give you a feel for the emotions in the room, and for the videos you have to be a slave to the TV schedule. If you even get that channel at all, which nobody in Douglas County does. The Appeal probably sends a reporter to cover all the meetings anyway, so it wouldn’t take much effort to set up a recording.

Anyway, I want to keep an eye on Carson City Live. Kirk Caraway might just be rebuilding the paper from the inside out. It needs better exposure, though. Its link on the homepage looks like an ad, not a really important and subversive part of the site.

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