The Potential of Evergreen News
"Useful content that [readers] can refer back to for months or even years to come," is how writer Rachel Deahl defines "evergreen content" in The Balance, March 17: "What is Evergreen Content?"
It's easy to see the advantages of web content that stays relevant over time and can be optimized by search engines and brought to audiences long after its creation. Such evergreen narratives avoid time and date, data that soon gets old, and the daily ins and outs, ups and downs of political debate. The tension in these stories stems from characters, actions, and changes in society that people care about.
CivicStory's Heart of the City-NEWARK video, released last week (6/29), may stretch the limits of evergreen news, since it includes some segments produced over two years ago. But the video's themes of citizen engagement and urban transformation are becoming core concerns of journalism, and the heartfelt, civic-minded comments by Rutgers University-Newark students weave a larger story that deserves to be public.
This raises a question: why are evergreen stories so scarce in broadcast news? Competitive pressures to focus on top news of the day may be a factor. The endless distractions of political and financial analysis may be another, as well as the human urgency of tragedy, crime, and unexpected events that will always supersede less time-specific items.
But a further explanation may be that simple story lines and "hooks" are more cost-effective in the time-pressured, labor-intensive environment of daily news. One can understand why news content veers toward "what just happened, what's everyone covering?" rather than "what happened recently that has fresh relevance," or even, "what's happening slowly that citizens really should be aware of?"
Opportunity for New Jersey
Now that New Jersey legislators are considering an intriguing proposal for a Civic Information Consortium that could help address our state's news and information needs, it's worth imagining the enormous potential of evergreen stories that could be harvested from our college and university campuses; creative municipalities; cultural and environmental organizations; and innovative philanthropies.
Creative change occurs gradually, but its social impact is profound and far-reaching. A Jersey-wide effort to generate evergreen news content that complements day-to-day news could benefit both the public and news outlets. Imagine a daily, renewable supply of relevant stories about education, cultural and ecological transformation, and the myriad ways citizens and organizations are changing their communities for the better.
About Rutgers University-Newark students in Heart of the City-NEWARK
Allyza Umali graduated with a BA in May of 2015. She attended Newark College of Arts & Sciences and double majored in Journalism and Video Production.
Nicole Binns graduated with a BA in May of 2015 and an MPA in October of 2016. She attended the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) for both degrees. As an undergraduate, her major was Public and Nonprofit Administration.
Terrell Blount graduated with a BA in May of 2013 from Rutgers School of Arts & Sciences in New Brunswick with a double major in Communication and Africana Studies. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Public Administration at SPAA.