Pappas Telecasting is taking the notion of viewer-contributed content a step further, creating a system of local Websites for hyper-local news and information created and posted by residents.
The initiative, called Community Correspondent, is already live in the Lincoln-Hastings-Kearney, Neb., market, where Pappas owns KHGI and KWNB, plus two stations, KTVG and KSNB, it operates through local marketing agreements. So far, the Nebraska site has about 100 members.
Pappas’ Fresno, Calif., station, KMPH, currently has a version in soft launch and all 27 Pappas stations will be up and running with local versions by the end of a summer. A national aggregator site will link the efforts and highlight the top stories in each market.
Pappas stations have been sending out cell phone alerts on weather, traffic and sports, but Community Correspondent is its first effort to harness the citizen journalist movement. “We were not the arbitrators of what is news,” says Rosemary Danon, Pappas VP of online and new media. “Let the community decide.”
The site will allow users to share pictures, video, audio and text with each other and with the stations, with some of the content broadcast in the stations' newscasts. Pappas hopes it stations will incorporate some element from its citizen correspondents – as little as a picture, possibly even a full video report – in every newscast. “A lot of people in newsroom keep the site open all day at their desk,” says Desiree Hill, VP of news development. “They are waiting for content to come through.”
The company is taking pains the keep the sites clean though. At each station, teams will monitor for inappropriate content and users will also be able to flag questionable postings. Users can post from cellphones, e-mails and more.
Pappas says surfers will be able to rate stories. The more popular will move up to the Website and most popular stories will be fed into the newsrooms’ servers for producers to troll.