Local is what local covers

Posted Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 7:44 p.m. by Chris Amico in Projects and Roadside Blogging about geotagging and journalism

Following up on my last post, I started listing in my head all the places and non-places my local newspaper, like every paper I've read or worked for, covers. Here's a partial list for a few news organizations:

The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA):

Places:

  • Santa Rosa
  • Rohnert Park
  • Petaluma (bureau)
  • Sebastopol
  • Winsdor
  • Healdsburg
  • Graton
  • Guerneville
  • Ukiah (bureau)
  • Lake County
  • Mendocino County
  • Occasional ventures into Napa, Marin and San Francisco

Non-places:

  • Sonoma State University (just outside Rohnert Park)
  • Santa Rosa Junior College (in Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Petaluma)

The Fremont Argus

Places:

  • Fremont
  • Newark
  • Union City
  • Niles Canyon

The Hayward Daily Review

Places:

  • Hayward
  • San Leandro
  • San Lorenzo
  • Castro Valley

Non-places:

  • CalState East Bay
  • Chabot College
  • Hayward Executive Airport

The Signal (Santa Clarita, CA):

I grew up here, reading this paper

Places:

  • Valencia
  • Saugus
  • Canyon Country
  • Newhall
  • Castaic
  • Agua Dulce
  • Placerita Canyon

Non-places:

  • College of the Canyons
  • Wm S. Hart School District
  • CalArts
  • The Masters College
  • Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital

None of these papers are major metros. The Press Democrat, by far the largest, peaked at around 92,000 daily subscribers a few years ago. The rest are small to mid-sized local dailies, covering cities between big cities with small (and shrinking) staffs.

Not all these places I've listed need a dedicated beat reporter, but online, it's not hard to turn any definable place into a focused page with a permanent URL and an RSS feed. A simple tagging structure--ideally separate from topical tags--would get us our local news feed, without any users having to hack something together on their end, and nothing harder for reporters than writing a dateline. It would make me happy.



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