Charlie Rose, Tom Cruise and the Merits of Community

Community Involvement Can Work on Many Levels

There seems to be something rather businessy to the “getting involved in your community” idea taking shape right now. Last night on Charlie Rose, political commentator David Brooks spoke about the professional advantages of working to make your community a better one. It’s interesting that in this global age—where a SIPA member in Ohio can just as easily sell to someone in Germany as Indiana—that establishing yourself in your community would still be a big plus. But it can.

The idea is that doing good things can help bolster your presence, and it’s probably easier to find those “good things” in your own community. Whether that involves supporting a cause through a charity run or bike ride—I know Guy Cecala has done this for years with his Inside Mortgage Finance—getting involved in an environmental way which is very popular now or maybe just telling local stories, the choice can be yours. But in today’s social media-swathed landscape, a few good deeds can draw many likes, tweets and YouTubings.

This is an idea that can be excavated, so to speak, and gone over more at a meeting such as SIPA’s Small Publishers Roundtable exactly two weeks from today in Washington, D.C. The other news item that made me look in this direction today came from the Association of Independents in Radio, Inc. Their new initiative called Localore honors 10 lead producers around the country who “focus their ingenuity on blending digital and traditional broadcast tools and platforms to expand the reach of public media in local communities.” On Tuesday, AIR announced its winning producer-station teams. Their projects will strive to: “Experiment and invent new ways to find and tell stories; discover fresh models blending old and new media; and forge new pathways between stations and their local communities.”

For me, the connections there to what SIPA members do are important. Who tells better stories about their niche subject areas than SIPA members? Just yesterday, Meg Hargreaves was telling me about the new, high-profile editors being hired at CQ Roll Call to put out their exciting new Morning Takes. Valerie Helmbreck of Progressive Business Publications was telling more about her past newspaper life—yes, Tom Cruise really is that short, she said—and Dan Warren of Communications Daily wrote of his Ph.D. in English Literature. These are super sharp people who now are figuring out how to tell stories in the digital age—and yes, discovering fresh models that may still have a hint of old media in them. (The Morning Take wants “to make sure you’re the first to know the latest.” How far back does that go?)

As for forging new pathways, that can be many-fold. Yes, it can be in the community, but it also can be in a group such as SIPA which depends in part on the participation of its members. The Small Publishers Roundtable can be amazing if a good number of members sign up (which we fully expect!). Pathways can also go to your online communities and, of course, to your subscribers.

A quick look at the AIR winners prompts some very adaptable ideas: In Chicago, “Curious City: Let’s Get Answers will prompt audience members to pose, rank, and help to answer relevant questions about community and news topics through online and mobile tools.” In Fargo, N.D., “Through embedded reporting from the oil patches and ‘mancamps’ of North Dakota, Black Gold Boom will catalyze discussion about the local and national impacts of the region’s rush to drill.” In Yellow Springs, Ohio, two veteran documentary filmmakers “will produce a participatory documentary, examining how residents of Dayton” are reinventing themselves. And in Boston, Planet Takeout will attempt to break down the barriers between Chinese immigrants working at local restaurants and the diverse customers they serve.

Making connections. Can anything else be more central to what we do every day? Take a look around your community this winter and spring and see what you can get involved with. It may just pay some dividends down the Internet highway.


This topic and much much—MUCH—more
will be discussed and given action items at:
SIPA Small Publishers Roundtable.
Thursday, Feb. 16, in Washington, D.C.

Learn about taking advantage of community
engagement—local or online—or which
social media platform may suit you best.

This all-day event for smaller publishers
has been designed to see how your peers manage
and what is and isn’t working for them.
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and confidential gathering!


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