What To Do With Your 'Hometown News'

The Sun-Sentinel just keeps pandering. If you get the print version of the newspaper, you've probably noticed the new emphasis on "community" news. For the uninitiated, community news is pretty much a scheme to build readership by going ultra-local and getting more readers' names in the newspapers. While it may have its place in the wider breadth of a newspaper's content, it has little to nothing to do with real journalism.

The local section -- which has already been diluted by The Help Team's silly reports on missing street lights and broken fences -- has been further gutted by regular "Community News Roundups." Today's paper has two inside pages full of "News From Your Hometown."

The "news" is nothing but a bunch of rehashed press releases in brief form. One after another. Ad infinitum. The first one promotes a Broward Sheriff's Office video on the "dangers of online social

networking." Yes, it's yet more Myspace fearmongering. The video highlights Sheriff Ken Jenne repeating things that have already been said countless times by others into the camera. It's utterly stupid and useless, but hey, it gives good face time to the sheriff. If the Sentinel were interested in providing context to the matter, they would have cited the recent study showing that the vast majority of teens are cautious online and keep their online profiles locked from strangers' view.

But again, this isn't about being a real newspaper -- it's about some marketer's idea of how to bring up sagging circulation numbers. The stuff was already available in the Community News section for the folks who like it. Bringing it to the real news section only cheapens an already declining product.

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