Chris Anderson’s “Vanishing Point theory of news”

The Long Tail guru has an interesting way of stating a reality that those of us in the news business have known for a long time, that up close and personal “news” has value far beyond what journalists tag as important. This discussion is important as everybody scrambles for the “hyperlocal” market.

For instance, the news that my daughter got a scraped knee on the playground today means more to me than a car bombing in Kandahar.

Am I proud of this? No. But it’s true. And it explains why I’ve stopped listening to NPR (I can’t think of a worse way to wake up than to a news report that begins with the words “Another bombing in Baghdad…” when I know that one of the main reasons for the attack was to get covered by the international media in the first place. Plus it no longer counts as news to me.)

I call this the Vanishing Point theory of news.

There’s nothing new about this (it’s a truism of the American newsroom that Paris, Texas counts for more than Paris, France), but it bears repeating. The future of media is to stop boring us with news that doesn’t relate to our lives. I’ll start reading my “local” newspaper again when it covers my block.

This is why the “news” on mySpace is more compelling to young people than the news from 30-Rock, and it’s a cornerstone of Media 2.0. The disruption is all about people, folks, informed, empowered and enabled people who are taking matters into their own hands, not just because they can, but because they reject the manipulation that so often passes as “real” news. This is not to say that we are culturally irrelevant, but we need to find ways to relate what we know to the people at home and not just in our marketing.

To be the purveyor of hyperlocal news is a good thing, but our mission is more than simply providing information to smaller masses based on geography. Type of information that goes there is important, but our job is also about relating broader picture matters to the smaller groups as well.


  1. thedetroitchannel says

    glad you’ve made a post using the word “hyperlocal”. i just saw where one reader on another blog asked “what does hyperlocal mean?”

    maybe it’s your neighbor’s kid who appears to need his meds adjusted?

    anyway, the term i think might be more appropriate than “hyperlocal” going forward is “community” content. while what happens on my block and in my city is important, it’s what’s happening in “my world” that is vital to know. “my world” is certainly a different world than that of my next door neighbors. but, i would venture to say there are other folks in THE world who share “my” world and therefore would be in “my community”.

  2. Listening to reports of bombings in Iraq or Afghanistan is an unpleasant way to wake up. It’s also disturbing to know that the Federal Budget deficit may undermine our kids future. Or that doctors performing abortions in Florida are getting shot by religious fanatics. Or that the State Senate leader is being bribed. Also that an asteroid could end life on Earth in a blink.

    We can’t do anything about any of these things so why bother? If JNJ has a new bandage for scraped knees — now that’s news I can use. Leave it to the guys in Washington and New York to handle the complicated stuff.

    If it’s not hyperlocal, it’s just bees in my brain.


  1. […] Ok, I swear this site is not just going to become some self-congratulatory linkfest on my part, but one of my “Media 2.0″ (does putting it in air-quotes make me less of a douchebag?) idols, Terry Heaton, has an interesting post about Chris Anderson’s Vanishing Point Theory of News. While a bit simplistic, it does provide an interesting argument on why Facebook is a possibly a better model of a news source than CNN. Take a look. […]

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.