The non-fictional Daily Prophet

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The School of Journalism, Media and Communication at UCLan has come up with a fresh idea for community news, based on a digital interactive paper, inspired by the Daily Prophet newspaper featured in Harry Potter.

Lots of weird and wonderful techy things are set to be included in the paper, such as audio storage, speakers and microphones, as well as special sliders, buttons and mobile communication. The result: the ultimate interactive experience for readers.

Referred to as a ‘new form of digital storytelling’, the paper sounds more like a forum than your traditional daily news digest, particularly as readers also get to decide who should cover which stories in the neighborhood and share information with each other.

Whilst it’s a great idea to invite readers to engage wholeheartedly in the paper, once again it raises the question of trust in media content – especially when the content is not necessarily written by trained, independent journalists who have the ability to assess, investigate and report on the news.  Distorted by mass contribution, surely there’s a danger that the content – as well as the format – will reflect that of the fictional version read by Harry and his peers, rather than actual goings-on.

In addition, the techy nature of the paper sounds incredibly expensive and surely would require huge advertising revenues to make it profitable – this is no mean feat when you consider the demise of many local and regional papers across the country.

All that aside, perhaps the university has the right idea. An entirely new platform for community news, which sounds like something conjured up by a wizard’s wand, might just be the kind of bright idea the industry needs to spark a resurgence.