Richmond Matters

Commentary and conversations about life in Richmond, Indiana

In The News

A tool for keeping up with local news and events

The short version of this post is that if you’re someone like me who enjoys keeping up with Richmond and Wayne County local news and events (and maybe you’re a little tired of the way social media filters what you are and aren’t seeing), you can:

  1. visit 47374.info to see the latest info coming in about the community, and
  2. subscribe to a brief morning email that keeps you informed as you start your day. (No ads, I won’t share your info, unsubscribe any time.)

Here’s the longer version with some details:

As a hobby project back in 2011, I created the 47374.info website. It automatically pulls together headlines, news, events, weather, press releases, jobs and other information about the Richmond and Wayne County area. I did this because I wanted to stay informed without spending as much time manually checking all the different places that one might go to find news and information.

When the site first launched, it was mainly just news headlines from a few local sources. Since then, I’ve expanded it to include closer to 20 different individual sources of news and press releases, along with some broader searches against other publications out on the web that might only occasionally have information related to our area.

For example, here is a screenshot of yesterday’s collection of information that the site automatically pulled in:

Wow, there was a lot going on! News stories from the Palladium-Item and Western Wayne News, press releases from Earlham, the EDC and IU East, a newly posted WCTV video recording of a Town Council meeting, and more. I would have had to check at least six different websites and done some web searching to find all that information on my own. With 47374.info, there it was all in one place! And when you click, you go straight to the original source.

The site also now has more than just headlines. It automatically looks for and pulls in upcoming public events that are already posted by various local organizations on Facebook, Eventbrite and a few other places. Here’s a screenshot from the sidebar:

Again, when you click on those event title links, you’ll end up on the original source website or tool where the organization first published the event.

The site scans for new job openings in Wayne County, as published at Hoosier Opportunity:

And, it grabs current and future weather information from the National Weather Service:

The site tries to automatically put all the most immediately relevant information right at the top as you visit on your phone or desktop, including any time-sensitive weather notices and alerts:

If you subscribe to the daily morning email, here’s what it looks like in your inbox:

Again, it’s important to emphasize that this is all done automatically by software. While there is some editorial decision-making inherent in the selection of sources, no one is sitting around curating this feed of information, deciding which links or headlines should be shared. Where there are gaps, it’s probably because a given potential source of information doesn’t make their news available in some consistent, structured way (e.g. a web page generated by a content management system, an RSS feed, some other standard format). I’m looking at you, RCS.

I know, the design of the site is pretty boring. The goal was to have an information delivery interface that was simple and easy to scan. I’m working toward a redesign that will make it a bit easier on the eyes.

One thing that using this tool has highlighted for me is that there are a lot of things happening in our community every day, between news, announcements, events and other stuff. If you only rely on what your social media service of choice has decided is worth knowing because it’s generating clicks or discussion, you’re likely to miss something important. Also, do you really want to get your news crammed in between cat videos and political rants from distant acquaintances?

In 2019, the site saw over 30,000 page views and close to 10,000 unique visitors, mostly from the U.S. A majority of people find it through Google searches for local news in Richmond.

I don’t make any money off of this tool, and I have no plans to in the future. If anyone should gain from it, it’s the professional journalists who report on what’s happening in our community. I hope this site sends them a little more web traffic than they might get otherwise.

As someone who has personally been much happier and productive when I don’t spend time on Facebook or other social media channels, I’m thankful there are still plenty of organizations that have not shifted their public communications entirely to those limited platforms alone for getting the word out. The amount of headlines that go by on 47374.info any given day shows me that local journalism, publishing and information sharing is largely alive and active in our community, and that’s exciting.

Here’s to staying informed. I hope you’ll give 47374.info a try, sign up for the daily briefing email (no ads, I’ll never share your info), and let me know what you think!

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