What Would Get You to Consume More Local News?

I had a conversation with a local journalist recently, and during the conversation I brought up that I didn’t really consume a lot of local news, explaining that I didn’t really care for like the coverage. The journalist asked me what I’d like from the coverage, what things would get me to consume local news. This is a thread to brainstorm and discuss some of those ideas. Here’s some ideas, off the top of my head, to kick things off:

  • Identify broad themes, involving the most critical challenges facing the state. For example, let’s say the cost of housing, quality of schools, and effects of climate change are the biggest issues….Hmm, no, that’s not really what I’m looking for, although a lot of coverage about topics like this, including explainer pieces would appeal to me….I’m thinking of something else….Maybe something like the amount of regulation and government oversight in the state–how this is a key obstacle to dealing with the biggest problems. Or maybe it’s the influence of the Big Five and apathy of the general public….I guess I’m thinking of not only the biggest issues, but the biggest obstacles to those issues….
  • Provide one or two hypotheses or narrative frameworks to report on these topics. For example, Governor Ige and the Democrats in his coalition are too beholden to the Big Five, and they’re trying to entrench the latter’s power (I’m just making this up). A younger generation, lead by politicians like Beth Fukumoto are change agents that are bucking the system, etc.

    What I’m getting at is trying to provide a broader narrative to provide context for individual, daily news stories. Think of something like what’s going on in national politics now. We can frame this as narratives that involve Trump as a budding authoritarian, attempting to consolidate power, etc. or a change agent, providing fresh air to Washington. Individual issues and stories can occur within taht context. Of course, some important stories won’t fit into that context, and this approach can lead to obscuring these important stories. Still, getting all the critical information and making sense of it is really difficult. What I’m shooting for is a framework to get a lot of the critical information in a way that citizens understand and find meaningful.

7 thoughts on “What Would Get You to Consume More Local News?

  1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your first suggestion (I mean, if that’s what would interest you in local news, by all means ask for it; I suspect you may be the only person who wants specifically this, though). I do have a problem with your second.

    I would prefer, if the newspaper is going to construct local narratives, that it keep it to the op/ed section, a topic which I will go back to in your other post since that’s where I brought it up. Space, time, and human resources are super-limiting, and I would rather the chosen news of the day not be dictated by whatever narratives the paper thinks we should follow. I would much prefer that each day, the biggest stories are chosen for coverage, whether or not they fit into any of the ongoing narratives. Translation: give me what you think are the most important stories, keep them factual, and let me decide the narrative.

    I know that differs from what you want, but the question asks me what I want. 🙂

  2. Although to really answer your question, I subscribed to the Washington Post right after the disastrous 2016 election. I (finally) resubscribed to the Star-Advertiser because I got a job working in the government. I felt it was my responsibility. I read UH News (in its various incarnations and from its various sources) because my job is on behalf of the university.

    I would consume local TV news if I had more time. In the absence of adding a couple of hours to my day, what would get me to watch more local TV news is if I could watch the whole broadcast on my phone or at my work computer, not in little one-story-at-a-time bites but as one viewing experience.

  3. I would prefer, if the newspaper is going to construct local narratives, that it keep it to the op/ed section,…

    I basically agree with that. However, I’m not sure the narrative is completely separated from the decisions relating to which news items should be covered and the level of importance an outlet places on them. …Let’s start with that last point. What goes into determining which stories get covered and to what degree?

    Translation: give me what you think are the most important stories, keep them factual, and let me decide the narrative.

    But you don’t think journalists already bake in narratives to their stories?

    I would much prefer that each day, the biggest stories are chosen for coverage, whether or not they fit into any of the ongoing narratives.

    I don’t disagree with this. I think a news outlet can and should cover stories that are important, that doesn’t fit the narrative(s) I have in mind.

    On another note. I like the idea of being really selective and stringent with regard to what constitutes really important news, especially in terms of daily coverage. Or, to say it another way: I don’t think an outlet should think about meeting a kind of quota. For example, if there’s only one or two stories that are truly newsworthy, then they should only cover that.

    What they could do instead is devote resources to developing bigger stories. Basically, I’m suggesting getting away from the idea that each day there must be certain number of stories (space) that the outlet that to cover (fill). From a news consumer’s perspective, even if the daily number of stories decreased significantly, there are still many other items that would take up my time (e.g., understanding homelessness and housing issues in Hawai’i).

  4. Missed this:

    I would consume local TV news if I had more time. In the absence of adding a couple of hours to my day, what would get me to watch more local TV news is if I could watch the whole broadcast on my phone or at my work computer, not in little one-story-at-a-time bites but as one viewing experience.

    I would think this is relatively easy to do; I’m kinda surprised this is not available now.

    Also, were you reading the Star-Advertiser at all before getting a subscription? If not, I’m especially interested in hearing how you feel your understanding and knowledge of local news has changed since re-subscribing. (I’m actually interested in this, whether even if you read the Star-Advertiser prior to the subscription.)

  5. Let’s start with that last point. What goes into determining which stories get covered and to what degree?

    Yes, the papers themselves are constructing their narratives and this influences the way they present the news (including what stories to cover). And yes, journalists are telling stories, which are narratives themselves. But you’re asking for what? More of that? More transparency about it?

    Your idea of covering only stories of importance is nice, but the paper has to sell copies, so it has to make that determination based on what people are interested in reading. That’s why a kind of balance has to be reached between what the paper thinks you should read and what it knows you want to read.

    Also, and I don’t know if this is still true, there was once a regulation somewhere about the percentage of ad space a paper was allowed to sell compared to its edtiorial (that is, news and features) content. This might not be true anymore.

    were you reading the Star-Advertiser at all before getting a subscription?

    We get the paper at the office, and before I subscribed, I tried to read it every day, although that’s often difficult to work into my daily work. As you know, I like crossword puzzles, so I used to make myself at least flip through the news on my way to the puzzle.

    I’m especially interested in hearing how you feel your understanding and knowledge of local news has changed since re-subscribing.

    My understanding is a different level now, since I work for an elected official. In some cases I know more than what’s being reported on. In many cases, I’m not even interested in the story but I feel I have to be aware of it in case I’m called upon to write something about it.

    But this kind of brings me back to the main reason I’m consuming more now than I did a few months ago. I’m involved in government, so I feel a responsibility to know something about it. When the oil rig explosion happened in the Gulf of Mexico several years ago, I watched the national news on two or three channels every day for months because I sensed something important was happening that I needed to understand.

    I’m not telling anyone else what to do about consuming local news, but I feel it’s important that I be aware on some level of what’s going on. As flawed as local TV and print news sources are, paying attention to them is better than not paying attention.

    I’ll also say that it has always been a priority for me to be conversant on many subjects of current events. Well, not always, but at least since fourth grade or so. If people are talking about something, I want to know what it is. I realize not everyone has this kind of curiosity, and it’s sometimes been more harmful than beneficial, but most times it’s been more beneficial than harmful.

  6. Yes, the papers themselves are constructing their narratives and this influences the way they present the news (including what stories to cover). And yes, journalists are telling stories, which are narratives themselves. But you’re asking for what?

    I’m responding to your point about wanting to decide on a narrative for yourself. I’m asking if journalists don’t choose narratives in doing their work. If you agree, then wouldn’t that make your preference moot? Or did you mean that you’d want journalists do minimize the extent to which they use or impose a narrative on their reporting?

    As for what I was asking, what I had in mind involved a bigger narrative–a kind of framework or lens–to help make sense of smaller stories that could fall under that narrative. For example, the lens that Trump is a corrupt, wannabe authoritarian would frame stories relating to tax policy, immigration, etc.

    Actually, I would prefer two or three competing narratives/hypotheses, making it easier to compare. For example, a team could operate from the Trump/authoritarian lens and another could operate from the Trump/reformer lens. Comparing these reports from these two approaches side by side over time can help news consumers make up their own minds which one seems more accurate and compelling.

    Your idea of covering only stories of importance is nice, but the paper has to sell copies, so it has to make that determination based on what people are interested in reading.

    That’s a fair point. But are you saying that what I’m saying is mutually exclusive from my suggestions? I would think my suggestions could accommodate those concerns. Having said that, I should note my suggestions come out of brainstorming–and I would prefer that we not immediately reject ideas because they are impractical. (We can do that later.)

    Also, and I don’t know if this is still true, there was once a regulation somewhere about the percentage of ad space a paper was allowed to sell compared to its edtiorial (that is, news and features) content. This might not be true anymore.

    I didn’t realize that. That’s good to know, though.

    (On a totally different note, have you studied or read anything about revenue streams that don’t come from users or advertising? I’m thinking of either government source or a private endowment; or what about fees charged for licensing to get on TV?)

    We get the paper at the office, and before I subscribed, I tried to read it every day, although that’s often difficult to work into my daily work.

    Aw, OK.

    I’m involved in government, so I feel a responsibility to know something about it. When the oil rig explosion happened in the Gulf of Mexico several years ago, …< ?blockquote>

    I don’t get the logic connecting these two sentences. You work in government now, so you feel a greater need to understand current events. Check. But prior to working for government, it sounds like you had a high interest in current events because you believe it’s important to know. What am I missing?

    As flawed as local TV and print news sources are, paying attention to them is better than not paying attention.

    That’s what I have doubts about, and this was why I was curious to know if you weren’t reading or watching the news much, prior to subscribing to the Star-Advertiser. If this were the case, you could give a before and after comparison.

    Maybe I should spend more time reading or watching local news, doing so regularly–at least for a short time–and then see if I notice any difference.

    I’ll also say that it has always been a priority for me to be conversant on many subjects of current events.

    With regard to local news, though, what percentage of the information would be topics that you think are critical to know. For example, is knowing about specific crimes (e.g. man assaulted in Waipahu) or fatalities (e.g., woman died crossing the road in…) really critical to know? I have very little interest in this sort of thing. Am I missing out on something important? Now, if there is a trend or pattern and some analysis revealing insights into this, I think that can be important, and worth knowing. But type of information seems relatively rare.

    Or what about news that relates to a hearing at the legislature on a specific issue, X number of people showed up, and person A said such and such and person B said such and such? Without getting more information about the issue, the credibility of the people and the claims they’re making, I don’t feel much better knowing off the information above. I’d be interested in hearing a case for why I shouldn’t think or feel this way.

  7. I’m interested in hearing thoughts on this Civilbeat article, Hawaii’s Top Lawmakers Unite Against Gov. Ige’s Re-Election

    “Today, our state is at a crossroads,” the letter begins. “As a result of inattention, indecision and inaction on the part of the Governor’s Office, many of the challenges facing out communities have gone unanswered — some have even grown worse. It is not enough for our state’s top officials to continually observe or indicate something needs to be done, but never be clear exactly what that is or how to get it done.”

    Questions:

    1. Do you guys think this is a fair accusation?
    2. If I read all the articles in the last year (from Civilbeat and maybe even Star-Advertiser), will I get enough information to come to a reasonable conclusion?

    In relation to the thread topic, I think it would be cool if there were one big article about the Governor’s performance so far–something that could also be updated as new information came in. That what I wanted to read after reading the article above.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *