Why journalists should geotag their articles

It’s been a year since I started my academic-research on “location based journalism”, a media technology, that allows (local) newspapers to geotag their articles and make them accessible (via app or web) for mobile readers.

While monitoring the development in this field, I feld the same down-side like 2011, when I was researching on “digital newsmagazines”. Back then I was among the first creating digital magazines for clients in Austria, working with two companies and as a freelancer. What I want to say: It feels like lightyears till a new technology hits the media-market — not just in Austria. In May 2015 I had an idea: I was walking threw Vienna at night wondering what stories were hidden behind the walls of the buildings I came across. When I came home I started to search if there is a way to make locations “talk”. What I found was “location based technology”.

“Location based news” are still in a very early stage, but I believe they have huge potential. Here are some reasons and learnings I made my in research:

  • location based news will change everything — from gathering, telling to reading news. Digital maps contain layers of information. These informations can be personalised by the reader, it will be available in real-time and ,
  • Readers can contribute to news stories and act like eyewittnesses. News organisations already contact people, that geotag themselves (via twitter/Foursquare) nearby breaking-news-stories.
  • locative news need a different structure and news value. As the user is already on the place, it’s not necessary to make detailed descriptions. The story should rather concentrate on things/persons, that are unseen (f.e. inside a building)
  • the technology is “ready”. Mobile news consumption is emerging. People are also willing to turn on their “GPS” option on their smartphone, fe. when they navigate with Google Maps, tag themselves on Foursquare, Facebook or Instragram.
  • Media organisations need new ideas on how to stay relevant. They need to follow their audience on different channels and adapt to their media-consumption.
  • location-based doesn’t have to mean marketing or service, any kind of information contains a place.
  • location is more then a place, it can refer to a community. Locative news can serve a special community (ethnic group, special interest) Bloom, a DC-start-up created a plugin to help news-organisations to geotag local stories.
  • The popularity of “Pokémon Go” shows, that people are willing to take action (and walk) to experience something. What media can learn from that: location based news should place “incentives” in their stories, like real-life interactions.