I know we should more next week about how the Grand Rapids Community Foundation and Community Media Center want to structure the process for opening Neighborhood News Bureaus.  But that hasn’t stopped me from thinking about the project.

We all know the web will be a big part of this: what sites get the content and in what form are still to be decided.  But, beyond the web, what other ways?

Do we set up an automatic Twitter account, the way we have for my station, WZZM 13?  I ask because I have heard from at least one person who uses Twitter on his mobile phone the updates are too short for phones and the URL is tough to get on a cell phone.  That’s one of the questions we’ll need to answer.

TV, despite all of the bashing it’s taken lately, is still a powerful form of media.  We’d have to figure out which content is going air on TV, what station(s) and, most importantly, how to let the community know.

We also cannot forget about that percentage of our community that either by choice or budget does not have home or office access to the internet.  How would we best hit those people?  Would we consider a newsletter that summarizes these?  And how about our Spanish-speaking Southwest side?  Do you create a 2-language bureau on that side of the city and use radio and newspaper to reach them?

Help me fill in the answers?  Join the discussion on the Facebook page the Foundation and CMC set up.

PC

DVR

I really like my HD-DVR.   In fact, I have to keep deleting older shows to hold the ones my family and I like to watch, either time-delayed that night or on the weekend.

So, when I read the latest report from Solutions Research Group called ‘Prime Time in America’, I have to say I was a bit surprised with this one finding: 70% of 18-34 year olds have watched TV online at some time vs. 36% who say they ever watched a TiVo or DVR.

Huh?!?  I get the idea you want to watch a program when you want to.  Both DVR and web do that.  Commercials are not an issue with either format, either.  I have watched TV online as well but, if given a choice, I’ll take my 46″ HD screen over my 14-or-so-inch PC screen anyday.

The report also has good news for my network, ABC: 3 of the top 6 shows are ours. (To be fair, click the link and read the summary.)

Now the report summary does not say where the viewing happened; I get if most of the PC viewing happened outside the home.  I also wonder how many of that 70% actually have cable or satellite; maybe it’s a cost thing.

The company says more research will be posted over the next few weeks.  In the meantime, if you read this and watch online, DVR or both, tell me which one you like more and why.

This is my last day in the office for 2008.  We (at WZZM 13) had quite a year:

  • Big stories: a building explosion, helicopter crash on a hospital roof
  • The launch of our Information Center, which means we look at ourselves not only as journalists, but also as providers of local information from school closings and sports scores to community events.
  • New platforms (iPhone, Twitter as 2 examples) and new skills (the number of people who can shoot video has almost tripled this year!)

And we did all this while dealing with what may be the worst business environment many of us have ever worked in.  If you are not in the media business, think about how your use of media has changed in the past few years:

  • How often do you still physically pick up a paper?
  • Do you visit lots of web sites, or aggregate them in your RSS reader or Twitter account (yes to both for me!)

Our challenge in the media is how to monetize these so we can continue to cover our communities and hold those in power accountable for what they do.

2009 will be an interesting year for the media (dire if you read Diane Mermigas’ latest column).  Still, I can’t wait to get going after the New Year!

Welcome to my blog, which I hope to get to at least once a day.

Today I wanted to start with a topic that will only get bigger over the next 6 weeks or so: the DTV transition.

If you or someone you know needs a coupon for their analog, non-cable or satellite TV, tell them to order it tomorrow.  This article is one of many that is saying the program could run out of money before everyone who needs a coupon gets one – or you may not get the coupon before the February 17th deadline.  People also don’t realize the coupons expire!  If they do, you can’t order any more from your address. Find a family member or friend who does not need any coupons and ask them to order for you.

I work at WZZM, the ABC station in West Michigan.  We will be doing multiple tests in almost every key daypart on Wednesdays, starting again January 7th.  If you live in another market, check with your TV station to make sure you can ‘Test Your TV’ before the deadline.