Blogging is pretty widespread. While I wouldn’t quite call it ubiquitous, it’s getting there. Despite that it’s fair to say that most every community in the US likely has a blogger or two sitting in homes clacking away about what’s happening with them in their community.
In the age of Web-first and community involvement, these kinds of people are extremely valuable. Titles need to know who the bloggers are in their communities. If the blogger is good, offer them a platform to write on a specific subject. Money is tight, but I believe that many would be happy to have the platform and to be recognized as an authoritative voice in their community on a specific subject.
It’s often as easy as keyword searching locations and landmarks in your coverage area into Google’s blog searcher. This will give you an index of instances where these locations have been mentioned in blogs. Half the work is already done for you.
If there’s a college in your area that has a journalism program, you should be walking into those classrooms and asking for applicants who consider themselves good bloggers. These students are looking for ways to add experiences to their portfolios and the students looking to get ahead will see this as a prime opportunity.
Community and hyper-local journalism is going to need to return to the community to rebuild its reputation and standing. This is a perfect opportunity to involve the community, learn more about your readers and increase the amount of content you’re putting online.