How Smaller Gets Bigger

The article, by Jen Schaffer, is a response to another piece about how the growing number of independent news outlets are gaining ground. Hyperlocal online publications are becoming more popular and how larger, more traditional news outlets can adapt. Some of her points are common sense: increasing local coverage, increasing quality in specific outlets, and increase relationships with community members and organizations. Shaffer recognizes and touches on the importance of local community and how sometimes that is lost to the big local media, even when they are the only game in town. It is because of this lack of in depth coverage that we have seen the creation and expansion of online hyperlocal outlets. Other ideas by Shaffer are to donate some thousands of dollars to cultivate local talent; Work with competitors and collaborators alike to better the product; And spread the news through social media and other outlets, using the reader as a pulpit.

SuperMedia

Charlie Beckett outlines his hypothesis that networked journalism can “save” media. Network journalism is simply having professionals and amateur journalist working in conjunction with each other to meet the needs of the demanding news landscape. One change Beckett describes is the change from having news deadlines to get the story out. When newspapers and magazines were the favored source of news, deadlines were essential. Today however, with the internet and 24-hour TV coverage, news is no longer constricted to print deadlines. It can constantly be updated and developing throughout the day, in real time on the internet. Walking hand in hand with this constant flow of news is the ability to use, as Beckett says, multiple platforms. Internet, TV, radio, print, video, audio, are all at the fingertips of the online journalist. Beckett further touches on the need of the journalist. Where as in previous generations, journalism was created and developed to serve that generation, journalism was struggling to understand what this generation wanted out of it. It is Beckett’s belief that a journalist is  required to do more to stay relevant and to remain an integral part of this generation.

Digital Journalist

I am 25. I was a sophomore in high school on September 11, 2001. I was old enough to understand exactly what was happening and how great the loss of life was. My father was in the military at the time, and even before it was officially declared an attack, I understood the inevitability of what was going to happen and that my father was probably going to be there. The gravity of the event, like the Kennedy assassination or the bombing of Pearl Harbor, is something that everyone alive and old enough to remember the events of September 11 will obviously not forget. I always was in amazement when my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles used to know exactly where they were, what the were wearing, who they were with when Kennedy was killed. September 11, 2001, I was in Ms. Nowak’s second period art class when a fire drill was called (so the principal could tell the teachers without making an announcement). I had a blue tie on. I now understand. Every photo I see of September 11, I don’t really think of the photo; I think of that day, the emotions of everyone around me, that feeling of seeing those photos and videos live on the television or the internet. That is the power of photography.

Online Journalism

You have heard it many times before: the internet changed everything. Writing, reporting, and journalism are no exception. The power of the internet always writers, photographers, filmmakers, editors, producers, and countless other professions to reach their audience and a fast, effective, and inexpensive way. This very website, wordpress, allows millions of people to let their voice out into the electronic world for millions of other people to hear. Social media, such as facebook, twitter, tumblr, and many other outlets allow people to share stories, photos, videos, cartoons, animations, soundclips, movies, music, etc. Journalism needed to adapt and embrace this medium or else be replaced by it. The newspaper is not dead, but the power it once head is gone and lost forever. Laptops and tablets, teamed with digital subscriptions and free news sites allow people to have access to millions times more information in a smaller and more convenient package (not engaging the argument that some people rather just hold the paper). With all of these possible outlets now available, the online journalist must be well versed in writing, video and sound editing and be, as Foust says, a “jack of all trades.” To lack knowledge or the ability in one of the ways to express and advance the story (such as video or audio) would limit the exposure that the story could get. With all of the ways the internet allows people to be reached, through all the various media, it would be foolish to not accustom oneself with the ability to use those media.

Photojournalism

Photojournalism is exactly what the name sounds like: bringing to life a story with the use of photography. Many of the same characteristics are shared with standard journalism, such as finding the story and good reporting and research. Kobre’s first chapter on photojournalism goes in depth about getting the assignment, using tips such as using police and fire radio scanners to find a story. Also using your contacts, getting tips, and keeping tuned into news outlets on tv, radio, and the internet. Jim Macmillan, a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist from the Philadelphia Daily News said that 90 percent of his tips about a story came from the radio scanner. These are important steps to make make sure the photographer can get to the scene of the story as quickly as possible. Unlike written journalism, photojournalism relies a great deal on being present at the most ideal moment for a picture. Being able to time and frame the shot, having the proper lighting, or simply just being there while the story is physically happening and not during the aftermath can make the difference between a page one photograph and not being published. Photojournalism can be just as powerful, if not more so, than the written word. Imagery tends to evoke more emotion from a person, and its because of this, that photojournalism is such a useful and powerful tool in telling the story.

Rough Draft – Reemergence

Reemergence

The term Rust Belt became in increased use during the 1980’s too describe the northeastern cities which had seen its previously industrialized manufacturing plants move elsewhere. The unflattering name spawned from the decaying shells of gigantic plants left to rot and rust. These ghost plants carried more with them than just the reminders of a past life. Just as the physical plant rusted and deteriorated, so too does the local economy, the job market, the school districts, and the housing and community. A Rust Belt city must redefine itself to move out of the shadow of the long gone industrialized carcass. With such a daunting task, to redefine a city and move forward, where do we start?

“How many areas in the country have tripled property value in 10 years?” ask Harvey Garrett.

Harvey Garrett came to Buffalo 15 years ago from Grand Rapids, Michigan. For nearly that entire time, he has been active and engaging with his community on the West Side of Buffalo. He is the founder and CEO of the West Side Community Collaborative (WSCC), a private sector organization responsible for the increase in property value on the West Side. Is this the first step in reversing the moniker of Rust Belt?

“After decades of decline, breaking disinvestment… stopping blight… stopping demos [demolitions]… and to start private investment and attract business is the goal,” Harvey says, “using existing resources, private investment and using the market to drive expansion [to increase property value].”  And so far, in the last 10 years, the plan has been working.

The West Side of Buffalo is a fairly large chunk of the city, starting East at Richmond Ave and extending to the Niagara River and starting North at Forrest Ave down to the Southern end of Virginia Ave. According to Harvey, property values in this large plot have doubled in the last ten years. However, the main focus of the WSCC has been a much more targeted area of the West Side: West Ferry to Massachusetts. This area was statistically considered “the worst” area of the West Side. High Crime rates, high quantities of blight, and severe amounts of vacancies littered this smaller portion of the West Side.

“Ten years ago, the average [sale] was $23,000. Today the average is $84,000. On Essex, we had 4 houses we bought for between $2,000 and $4,000… The latest house on Essex sold for $155,000.”

Who is moving into the neighborhood? According to Harvey, new residents come from all over. “People from the Suburbs are moving into the city, as well as people from out of state.”  Kevin Hoyt, 38, moved from Austin, Texas. Originally from the Buffalo Area, he moved to Texas for work before deciding to move into the West Side.

“We liked the neighborhood. We liked the diversity. For $50,000 we are living in a mansion here compared to what I had in Texas.”

The West Side has long been known for its cultural diversity. Immigrants and refugees have taken shelter in the West Side since the 1940’s and World War II. This trend of diversity has been passed on to form a diversity of wealth in the West Side as well. A home worth $140,000 on Chenango Street is located across from a Habitat for Humanity home. An automobile repair shop, Autopia Limited, specializing in high end valuable cars is located a block down from an area, 10 years ago, had the highest crime rate in the city. Across the street Autopia is The Left Bank, a very well-known and high end restaurant. This economic diversity is yet another result from the WSCC’s work.

John Leonardi, CEO of Buffalo Niagara Realtors, has been working close with Harvey Garrett and the West Side Community Collaborative. Both he and Harvey stressed the importance of dealing with vacant properties, not only on the West Side, but in the entire City of Buffalo.

“There are 15,000 vacant homes in the City of Buffalo. Every year, the city demolishes 1,000 vacant homes,” says Leonardi.

“We bought a home for $10,000; rehabbed it for $6,000. It sold for $16,000. That is less expensive that to demo it,” Garrett says.

However both men were quick to point out saving vacant houses is only a good first step: “We work with realtors and businessmen and neighbors… a very grassroots movement. It wasn’t just stop knocking down vacant houses,” Garrett adds.

 

Commercial Work

Community activity has jump started the neighborhood. With the raising property values, commercial contractors have also been getting more work with restoration of various businesses and housing areas.