Local media: the next big step?

Allbritton Communications Co., the parent company of Politico.com, ABC 7 and NewsChannel 8, recently announced plans to launch a new website that will focus on local news in the Washington, D.C. area. This interesting advancement will be led by Jim Brady, the former executive editor of WashingtonPost.com.

I discovered this piece of news while perusing Politico.com a few days ago, the site that I am analyzing for my final paper. This move comes at a time when many forms of traditional media are struggling to hold onto a fickle and impatient audience. As online journalism is becoming increasingly popular, it comes as no surprise that along with websites for national news, there should be a niche for websites covering local news. This innovative move is one that will likely be watched closely by many other news sources, potentially starting a new trend of local news websites.

The entity taking on this move is also noteworthy; Politico.com achieved success seemingly immediately, fulfilling the online niche for political addicts, so it follows that the creators of this new site are hopeful that Politico's success will be repeated.

The other main focuses that this site will encompass are a push toward mobile compatibility and a combination of professional journalism and citizen journalism, a subcategory of the field that is becoming more and more popular. This will definitely be a site to keep an eye on, as its success or failure could determine whether or not local media becomes the newest form of new media.

Big news: Internet domains are moving multilingual!

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit organization that oversees Internet domain addresses, endorsed a move on October 30 that will allow for domains to be published and accessed using non-Latin alphabets. Starting next year, Web sites will be produced using non-Latin scripts, an act that will allow for an Internet that better reflects international diversity and multilingualism.

ICANN President and Chief Executive Rod Beckstrom called this a “historic move toward the internationalization of the Internet,” according to the New York Times. An estimated 1.5 billion people use non-Latin based languages, according an Associated Press article. Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Korean, Hebrew, Hindi and Japanese are among the major languages to be added to domain names.

I think this is a brilliant move toward accepting international diversity and it is unbelievable that this change has not already been incorporated into Web usage, especially since so many non-Western countries have been at the forefront of developing Web technologies and the majority of people in the world do not speak Latin-based languages. I’m curious to see what this will do for the Internet and online news media, especially as online networks are to expand through this action.

And now that the Internet will move to multilingualism and be accessible to more people from all corners of the world, I’m wondering what complications, if any, this will create. How will this affect search engines and online databases? Even though this move will expand access to people who are less familiar or proficient with Latin-based characters, will this also hinder access to others?