You may remember that, in early September, we heard rumblings of Portland-based television station KATU getting into the hyperlocal blogging game. Now, as Oregon Media Central reports, the KATU community sites are live and accessible to the public.
And while this traditional media foray into typically grassroots reporting and blogging represents an “it’s about time” moment—and a move that validates what many local bloggers have been doing for years—it’s worth taking a look at what the KATU blogs are going to be covering.
The KATU blogs closely represent the model of Portland-based Neighborhood Notes. One which divides the beats into geographic regions of Portland. Although KATU’s blogs don’t appear to get down to the neighborhood level, as of yet.
They are currently covering the following beats:
- Portland City Center
- Northwest Portland
- Southwest Portland
- North Portland
- Northeast Portland
- Southeast Portland
- East Portland
- Oregon City
- Lake Oswego
- West Linn
- Battle Ground
- Hazel Dell
- Salmon Creek
Each site carries its own blog and RSS feed, allowing readers to hone in on the specific areas that interest them.
And at this point, they’re promoting them fairly heavily with a pop-up on the KATU site.
As an aside, I think there’s going to be some interesting content developed here. But I was more interested in keeping track of more of a macro level—without having to subscribe to a ton of different feeds. So, using the magic of Yahoo! Pipes, I crated up a bunch of the different RSS feeds into a single feed.
I thought you might like that kind of thing too. If so, here you go. I’m happy to share:
- KATU Portland blogs combined feed contains all of the feeds for Portland proper
- KATU Portland metro area blogs combined feed contains all of the Portland blogs, the suburban blogs, and the Vancouver blog
- KATU Portland and SW Washington blogs combined feed contains all of the current KATU community blogs
Blogging beats aren’t the only concepts KATU is borrowing. In addition to KATU created content, they’re looking for local writers to contribute content, as well. Likely without compensation for the writers.
Good, bad, or indifferent?
So what’s this mean for the local blogs—like Neighborhood Notes, OurPDX, ThePortlander, and others—who have already been covering these beats? And what’s it mean to traditional publications like The Oregonian, The Portland Mercury, Willamette Week, and the Portland Tribune and its cadre of various local newspapers?
It could mean nothing. I mean, blogging isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And as anyone who has tried it knows, it ain’t as easy as it looks.
It’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not these new entrants will be able to keep up the day to day grind. Just as more importantly, it’s hard to say—at this early juncture—whether or not they will be able to cultivate the community required to make their blogs something more than what they’re already delivering.
Or it could mean that these small grassroots efforts are not long for this world. Their efforts and community could be quickly subsumed, as traditional media types start encroaching on their territory. Beating them to stories, advertising, and the ever-important reader who trusts them.
But I tend to take a more positive outlook.
I remain convinced that—first and foremost—traditional media entering the hyperlocal arena validates that the market exists. And that’s a good thing for everyone. What’s more, it creates opportunities for traditional and grassroots media to form some interesting alliances.
In some Portland metro area communities we know there are already well-established neighborhood blogs. These are great sites and great resources. However, just like there are many media sources and voices, we believe we can also become a go-to resource for you and your community.
And it seems like Fisher—KATU’s parent company—may be thinking about the community efforts in a similar way.
“We could actually help grow traffic for other neighborhood blogs by providing links and creating partnerships,” [Fisher Interactive manager Troy] McGuire said. “Not everyone is seeing that opportunity.”
No doubt, KATU is just the first of what will be many traditional media outlets to make the leap into the hyperlocal blogging. But how the lumbering media giants participate in the world of blogging remains to be seen.
Whatever the case, It will be interesting to see how this space evolves. Both in Portland and elsewhere.