What should a local news source be?

suzie_dreamingI was thinking today about an upcoming reader project and started jotting down what I’d want from a regional news provider. I don’t mean  section headings (‘news’ or ‘information’ are givens, surely?) ; I mean, what values would make me think of them as more than a purely geographic recorder and pusher of information.

In no particular order, this is my list so far. God help me it reads like a WLTM ad but that’s no bad thing – I am, after all, talking about a potential life partner here: 

  • Invested
  • Participating
  • Wise
  • Funny
  • Understanding
  • Witty
  • Smart
  • Reliable
  • Correct
  • Knowledgeable
  • Strong
  • Questioning
  • Caring
  • Observing
  • Honest
  • Useful
  • Listening
  • Helpful
  • Critiquing
  • Critical
  • Assured
  • Championing
  • Leading
  • Anticipating
  • Analytical
  • Trusted
  • Friendly
  • Measured
  • Known
  • Familiar
  • Intelligent
  • Accurate
  • Optimistic
  • Transparent
  • Collaborative
  • Open

It’s an impossible list and yet it’s a list that you could (almost) use as a checklist for every piece of content you make. How many of these elements does your content contain? It might be just a handful, but is the relevant handful?
At the end of the day, as the last screen powers down, can we say we have striven to fulfil as many of these criteria as we could?

What’s missing? I struck off ‘engaging’ – the words listed seemed to have that in ever part of them already and I’m rapidly going off the idea of engagement as a measure for anything – it’s such a vague term.
So what about ‘profitable’? It’s essential for a business – is it essential for a reader to know about a business’s state of affairs? If I were an advertiser I know I’d be interested, as a reader I’d also want to know the stability and long-term prognosis of my news source.
Tell me what I missed, and why it’s important, and I will be a grateful and happy blogger.

I realised as I jotted my list that tech and system requirements were naturally suggesting themselves. I started a separate list for that but it’s a work-in-progress. So I suppose that makes this post Part I.