The local news ecosystem is broken. Big data can help fix it. Crosstown, based out of the University of Southern California, harnesses data to report on crucial local issues at a fraction of the cost of a traditional newsroom. It scrapes and sorts local data to cover everything from crime and traffic to housing and sanitation. Reporters use the Crosstown dashboard to find out how many burglaries took place last month or determine which intersection had the most traffic collisions. Reporters can also use that data to spot trends and tailor reporting down to the neighborhood level. Data also lets newsrooms produce coverage at a scale never before possible for local news.

In Los Angeles, Crosstown sends out 110 unique newsletters every week, one for each neighborhood in the city. The newsletters use data to deliver hyperlocal insights to residents about their own communities. The experiment is now being rolled out in North Carolina, Chicago and New Orleans. Data isn’t a cure-all for everything ailing local news. But it reduces costs and increases coverage and engagement. This presentation will explain how data can be collected and deployed to bring new vibrancy to local newsrooms. It will feature live use cases from Los Angeles and North Carolina.