Pay attention, broadcasters!

Dan Gillmor has offered some outstanding recommendations for local newspapers, and I think broadcasters also need to think hard about what he’s saying.

Yes, newspapers have been losing circulation and power, but they retain a surprisingly deep reservoir of credibility and authority in their communities. The reservoir must be replenished, and it is the citizens who — given the opportunity — will be able, and perhaps glad, to help.

The key is in having the conversation with the community and, even more, helping community members have a conversation among themselves. Newspapers, given their positions, can be at the center of this conversation — not the object of it in most cases, but the enabler and, to some extent, agenda-setter.

Dan’s right, and there’s a real danger for local TV stations, if newspapers pick up on this. If the information agenda is set and maintained by the community in this manner, TV News runs the risk of permanent second-class status — perhaps even commoditization — in the local information sphere.

I tell my clients that there’s only room in each market for one of these entities, unless, of course, they become based in some sort of political extreme. And nothing says that this entity has to be the local paper.

Time is the enemy, folks. There’s none of it to waste.

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