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Hyperlocal blogging of a breaking news event

Len posted last week about the frequent blogging I did during three days of rising river water in the small town of Northfield, Minnesota where I live.

I’ve included some of the comments we received from local citizens in the extended entry below.

I think our experiment ‘worked’ in part because it provided coverage of a breaking news story in a way that other media in town couldn’t or didn’t. The local newspaper, the Northfield News, is published twice per week on Wed. and Sat. Their website only contains the content from the print edition and you have to be a print subscriber to get at it. The local radio station, KYMN, did provide regular news updates on the rising water but they don’t have a website for photo or video or audio clips. The local public access cable service, NTV 26, doesn’t do breaking news stories.

Posting dozens of photos of a breaking news event is a unique way for any media website to offer something that radio, TV, and print can’t do.

I posted several photos of this location during the 3 days as way to give people a visual reference for the river’s rising.

I tend to err on the side of quantity over quality when it comes to posting photos in our Photo Gallery. With a digital camera and ample web server storage space, there are essentially no cost inhibitions. And since each photo has its own URL, it makes it more likely that people will email friends, family and colleagues when a particular photo catches their interest… or link to it, if they have a blog.

The weblog-plus-photogallery provided a way to highlight particular aspects of this event… and in that respect, I took on the role of an editor, using the blog as my bully pulpit to highlight photos of the mayor, city council members, police, public works director — public servants in action.

Mayor Keith Covey surveys the city workers surveying below who are preparing to protect the two power transformers on either side of the footbridge.

I didn’t editorialize about their activities but of course, just choosing them to feature positively in a blog is an editorial decision and reflects my belief that the town’s public servants don’t get enough kudos for the work they do.

Lastly, I took the opportunity to provide a little education about the watershed we live in with this image

and a link to the local Cannon River Watershed Project.

Thanks to Len Witt for the opportunity to expound on this.

I’ll turn on the COMMENTS feature for this post in case anyone has questions or comments.

The “breaking news” coverage provided during the flooding in Northfield was excellent, especially considering is all-volunteer.

While I receive the Northfield News and enjoy reading the newspaper, their web people could learn a lot from how handled this story. is ten times the web site the Northfield News puts out there. Besides, the Northfield News restricts most of their web site to subscribers-only. Some newspapers want people to register for their sites (StarTribune, Pioneer Press, etc.), but I don’t know of any, besides the Wall Street Journal, that restrict access to their sites. That’s a very poor strategy, in my opinion.

This was a great service to the citizens of Northfield and other interested parties outside the city (college students who are home, etc.), and the pictures were great. I go to first for what’s happening in Northfield. Fabulous job!

======== is my home site and I think you performed a terrific service keeping our community posted on the flooding. The pictures are interesting and informative.


I really appreciated your coverage of the storms/flooding. Your site was the best place to go for immediate news about what’s happening, and I know a lot of people who learned of your site because of word of mouth the past week – and they plan to come back often. Thanks!


Your flood coverage was great. Kept me in touch with a scene I’d otherwise have mainly seen only from the window of my car as I cross the 2nd St. bridge.


I love the photos! Thanks for making them available. I wanted to get photos but never had time or my camera along to do so. These are great. The links are also good – comprehensive connections to useful information.

2 Responses to “Hyperlocal blogging of a breaking news event”

  1. WOLves Says:

    Did Denver Big3 Deliberately Endanger Citizen Journalists?

    I’m aware that the readership here may not be aware of some terms being used. That’s not unusual – these terms have only been coined in recent months. When I say, “hyperlocal journalism” that’s about citizens who happen to be

  2. Thoughtsignals Says:

    Small-town hyperlocal

    Another hyperlocal blog, this one in the small, rural college town of Northfield, Minn. (coincidentally, where I was this weekend). When the river there rose last week, the blog was the only local outlet providing breaking news. If local blogs…