Two weeks ago, I moved into a condominium in downtown Dallas. It was quite a lifestyle change from an otherwise non-descript apartment home in a non-descript neighbourhood in Dallas that required car transportation for everything.
For the new condo, think expansive downtown view. Think vibrant, growing, intimate urban neighbourhood. Think lots of things to discover for the first time. Think trains. Think walking. Think lots of dining and entertainment options within five minutes.
I visit places like this all the time in urban centers worldwide. I’ve just never lived someplace like this.
Yet as all things with me, media intersections are everywhere.
First, I’m reading the print newspaper more and more. There’s a 7-Eleven in my building: I buy the newspaper single-copy and go to a nearby restaurant where there’s plenty of room and time for absorbing a print newspaper for lunch. I find the whole experience relaxing – even news on paper is a break from the digital deluge straining my eyes on the computer and iPhone. Previously, buying a single copy of the newspaper required a car. I absorb anything remotely near local news in The Dallas Morning News – more than ever before.
Second, I see first-hand the challenge of a metropolitan newspaper. I’m intensely interested in the Main Street District of downtown Dallas and, perhaps, anything connected to it by train. This is, perhaps, two-tenths of 1% of the content of The Dallas Morning News. This is the Achilles Heel of U.S. metropolitan newspapers: they’re spread too thin to be intensely relevant by geography.
Third, because I’m intensely interested in my downtown district, I’ve found a wealth of non-traditional web sites that – cobbled together – give me this “deep dive.” Among them: portals, volunteer-produced sites, restaurant and bar sites, entertainment guides, train schedules, basketball schedules, and more.
Fourth, I’m desperate enough to connect to this community that I’m experimenting with contextual services. Twitter Local is interesting, and I can see all tweets within a mile of my zip code – yet for a 40-something guy it matters little to know about the 20-something club-hopping dudes and dudettes and their hormonally challenged musings. I’ve also experimented with entertainment guides that provide a similar service, but the filtering is not yet relevant enough.
Fifth and finally, I feel a part of a community. Yet there is no glue that brings us together. My digital cobbling of web sites suffices, yet I wish there was either a dedicated newspaper or a deeper dive in my hometown metropolitan newspaper for the 7,000+ people who live in downtown Dallas.
We’re an industry that irrationally pursues its own internal definition of “quality.” Yet in today’s information overload, “quality” is about context, glue, relevance, and local.