Final Assignment, Local News: Florenceville-Bristol — Melissa Dickinson

Posted: April 20, 2011 by melissadickinson in Uncategorized

The town of Florenceville-Bristol, New Brunswick is a small community of 2,000 people, after its amalgamation in 2008. The town surrounds the beautiful St. John River and offers a quaint and friendly atmosphere. Since its amalgamation in 2008, the town council has taken great efforts in growing is tourism department. Now offering such sites as the Summer Market, the Shogomoc Railway and a brand new boardwalk along the St. John River, Florenceville-Bristol is a beautiful town that I have grown to love.

A view of the boardwalk and bridge over the St. John River on Main St. in the town of Florenceville-Bristol

The thing with living in such a small town like Florenceville-Bristol is that the people seem to be more interested in gossiping about who was kicked out of the bar on the weekend and which students are coming home from University for the summer. It is most common to see photos and stories about the car accident that happened on the corner of Main and McCain streets during “rush hour” on a Thursday at supper time in the local newspaper, the Bugle-Observer. Really, I think it’s due to the fact that Florenceville-Bristol and the upper River Valley aren’t faced with big news breaking stories everyday that you would find in towns and cities with populations upwards of 10,000 people. Therefore, when printing time is coming around the bend for the Bugle-Observer, the paper begins to be filled with stories of the local fundraiser at the Elementary School in Bristol and who won the dog show at the Civic Center in Woodstock over the weekend. Were just a baby town, and honestly, how much trouble and news-worthy activity can happen in a town of 2,000 people.

As mentioned previously, the Bugle Observer is the local newspaper for Florenceville-Bristol that is based out of Woodstock, New Brunswick. The newspaper offers local news from the Carleton County region and is output twice weekly on Tuesday’s and Friday’s. The Bugle Observer actually began as two separate papers, one named the Bugle and one named the Observer. The newspaper organization celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2008 making it one of the oldest newspapers in New Brunswick.

Basing my information on what has worked, and what has flopped over the years for the Bugle-Observer,  I will offer to you what I think would be a successful and useable internet-based news media organization for the people of Florenceville-Bristol.

The Website

With McCain Foods Ltd. being the largest corporation in Florenceville-Bristol (and probably in Carleton County) citizens of the town have seen how its population has increased over the years. A large portion of this new population are workers being brought in from different countries. Just since the amalgamation, the town has seen the emergence of the Multicultural Association of Carleton County and the food offerings in the local grocery store becoming more ethnic to appeal to that aspect of the community. The citizens of Florenceville-Bristol are being introduced and have had to adjust and welcome new cultures and ideas to their beloved community.

Therefore, a large portion of my local internet based multi-media platform would devote itself to a twice weekly continuous documentary. This documentary-type video would allow the community to gain more knowledge and a better understanding of the different ethnicities in our community and what these people have had to give up to make a new life in another part of the world. It’s important, however, to make sure to gain perspectives from both sides of the spectrum. Therefore, I would like to interview and have discussions with the older generations and native residents of Florenceville-Bristol to gain an idea of how this diversity and bringing in of new residents from other areas of the world have affected them. I feel by doing this, the community will feel involved in these multi-media project and will stay active in staying up to date with its daily content.

In addition, these video diaries or documentaries will make the community more informed. As such, I think it would take away from the typical conversation lines in Florenceville-Bristol from the pure gossip. Instead, the residents would learn more positive attributes about the people of their community rather then the knowledge that is gained from the rumour mill, which is often false or alone the lines of negative context.

In taking time to search other small town news organizations online, I noticed how difficult it was to navigate through their websites. A friend of mine pointed out that her hometown’s local newspaper website, the Guysborough Journal, is a little less then fantastic. It’s not that it is hard to navigate through, it just doesn’t have that “wow factor” when you open it up. Very simple and to the point. Which I guess could be a good thing for those of us who aren’t so technologically advanced. However, when I open up a news website I want to be hit with eye catching pictures, large headlines and stories that make me want to look deeper into the website.

What I think the community of Florenceville-Bristol would benefit from is an online news organization is the ability to navigate easily through the website. The use of large printed headlines, colourful banners and eye catching photos are what need to be the main focus on the website — besides the stories and the news of course. I want to create a site that is more exciting than the minimal style of The Guysborough Journal, but be a little less clustered and overwhelming then The New York Times. As I mentioned previously, Florenceville-Bristol is a small town. Nine times out of ten, we know about local news-breaking events before they are ever published in a newspaper or online. Word of mouth is definitely the main source of information deliverance. Therefore, the people of Florenceville-Bristol want a site that can get them the information the fastest way possible. Navigating through titles, and sub-titles and headlines after headlines of information just to learn about the latest gossip-worthy news to pass on at the hairdressers isn’t appealing to my community.

Financing

Local restaurant business, Bootjacks, on Main St. in Florenceville-Bristol

What I think is important in small community is promoting the local businesses and companies that make the community what it is. Therefore, I would invent them to advertise their companies on this local news website. It would help with their business and would keep the local feeling on the website. In addition, McCain Foods and the family are a large part of what has kept Florenceville-Bristol alive over the years. It is an international company that I’m sure when approached with this idea of a local project, they would be more then willing to help out financially without taking over the website and putting their hand into the project too much.

A Community Calendar would be another great way of keeping the town informed of the information they think beneficially, while bringing in a form of income from the website. By having a section of the website devoted to upcoming events and shows within Florenceville-Bristol and the surrounding Carleton County, would allow for local advertising while at the same time appealing to the community. The young local musical talents, Telfer, often come home to give great and exciting shows at the local bar. Featuring and advertising them on the Community Calendar would support local talent thus keeping the local theme present within the website.

Lastly, merchandise is always a good way to accumulate income.  Hats, mugs, t-shirts, lanyards, flip flops, keychains, water bottles and other promotional gear featuring the websites logo would generate buzz about the website while at the same time bringing in money.

Offering memberships would be another way to accumulate income. By having a membership, people could comment on stories and videos, receive updates from the website on their mobile device and chose topics and categories of stories that they are interested in to be directly sent to their email. This is just another way to appeal to the community. It’s another way to access this information quickly. For example, by getting updates directly to their mobile device, local residents are going to gain knowledge as to what is going on in their community quicker. As such, residents will be able to engage in the daily gossip at the line at Tim Horton’s or sitting in the chair at the hair dressers more quickly and more reliably.

Success

Determining the success of the website will be based upon the number of hits it gets a day and the number of memberships able to be accumulated. In addition, it is important that the website is able to bring in some revenue. If money begins to become an issue and the website is unable to sustain itself, then it would be easy to conclude that the project wasn’t as successful as was intended.

Another way to determine the success of the website project is to reflect back on what influenced the decisions to make the website and what made it possible. Gossip. What a glorious thing. If the people of the town are talking about what the website has to offer and suggesting it to their friends through the classic and ever-reliable word of mouth strategy, then it would be safe to say that the website project is having some sort impact on the community.

To Conclude

I believe that Florenceville-Bristol truly defines what it is and what it means to be from a small town. A population of 2,000 people, the easiest and most routinely used way of gathering up to date information about the community and the ground breaking news stories lies in forms of gossiping and relaying information through word of mouth. Many of the people who live in Florenceville-Bristol are long time native residents and feel they know everyone and everything about the community. Today, we are seeing more and more outside people being brought into this small town for jobs at such a large corporation. Therefore, by finding a balance between video content that will knowledge the community, up-to-date pressing issues and stories and covering ground-breaking news within the community I believe this unnamed project will become a success within a small community that isn’t always opened to new ideas and ways of living.


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