Opinion: Philly news startup Billy Penn smartly wants to visit your neighborhood

Image: Minh Uong/New York Times

Image: Minh Uong/New York Times

By Dustin Slaughter

Local news organization Billy Penn is taking hyperlocal news to the next level.

This afternoon, the tiny startup – which hired their first “Reporter/Curator” on September 8th – announced their intention to meet residents in their own neighborhoods:

Photo: BillyPenn.com

Photo: BillyPenn.com

This shouldn’t even be noteworthy or exciting, but it is, because this sort of innovation should have already started years ago. Instead of deciding what news to cover unilaterally for sections of the city, Billy Penn wants some input from the community – and what better way than by hitting the streets and meeting the communities you intend to serve? What a novel idea.

This makes a lot of sense, though: as Philly’s newspapers continue their steep decline – as evidenced most recently with Philly Metro buying out City Paper (and yes, we here at The Dec aren’t terribly enthusiastic, or optimistic about this) – how will the news not just survive, but grow? To start with, creating a more horizontal news ecosystem that listens and works for the community. In other words, more responsive and less institutional.

You can fill out Billy Penn’s survey here. We wish them the best of luck.

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