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York County wins grant for mobile media lab to promote future of local news

UPDATE 8/28/12: The mobile media lab is now known as NewsVroom. Follow our visits with the community and tell us how we can help at the NewsVroom’s new blog.


Congratulations, York County. You have won!

The York Daily Record’s parent company, Digital First Media, has just reported that ours is one of a few newsrooms across the country to be awarded a grant to build a Community Media Lab. In January, DFM issued a challenge to all of its newsrooms to vie for this grant.

We were ready to respond with a concept we had kicked around for years. We call it, the YES-UV. Or the Mobile Media Lab. But those are just placeholders until you, the people of York County, have a chance to weigh in on the best name.

We presented our proposal in a blog post in January and have heard from one of the judges that this plan “was a no-brainer.”

Now comes the hard work.

We will spend the next few weeks re-fitting this van from our delivery fleet to deliver a new message to the community. This plain, white panel van will soon sport a vibrant display of the many brands we use to serve you with the news and information you need.

These include ydr.com, GameTimePa.com, FlipSidePa.com, YorkBlog.com, Smart magazine, Weekly Record, and of course, York Daily Record/Sunday News.

We will outfit the van with half a dozen laptops and iPads, a slew of cell phones and a Wi-Fi hotspot to hook all that and more up to the fastest mobile connection possible.

We will prepare a classroom on wheels, a community center that moves, a town square that can pop up wherever and whenever it can help.

We will sponsor a competition in which you can help name this roving project.

We will accelerate York County’s adaptation to new media.

This is somewhat self-serving, in that we believe we can best serve the needs of readers and advertisers by maximizing our efforts across all platforms. But it is based in the concept of service.

Consider how we connect you with technology that makes your life better on a local level:

  • DailyBuzzPa.com” brings you terrific half-price deals on local products and services, and rewards you for sharing these deals with your friends.
  • The live Scoreboard on GameTimePa.com gives you scores of most high school events as soon as they are available to us.
  • Through e-mail and text alerts, we break in to your regularly scheduled day to let you know about important news developments.
  • The dozens of videos we produce each week connect you with the faces and voices and personalities of your neighbors.

We do not intend for this vehicle to simply be a fancy car that’s good for a parade or to draw attention at the York Fair – though it will be good for both. This is how one of our editors, Brad Jennings, sees it:

“What we have here is totally new. We don’t want you to spin a wheel for a chance to win a TV sponsored by Best Buy. We want you to tell us what’s going on in your community that matters to you, or ask us how to find information you need. We want to teach you how to get in the conversation, or to share what you have. We want you to meet Mike Argento or Jim McClure or Steve Navaroli, not because they are famous, but because they are storytellers and they might care to hear your story.”

I landed on the name “YES-UV” years ago on kind of a lark. When we meet with people around the community, we’ll hear questions such as, “I’d like more people to appreciate the work of our civic organization. Can you help with that?”

The answer, of course, is “Yes we can.”

“Can you help me understand why my tax bill is going up again?”

“Yes we can.”

Can you help me decide what to do with my free time this weekend?”

“Yes we can.”

I can go on like this all day. You see, a newspaper is, and always has been, a service to the community. The answer guy. The original Google. The other library.

And today, technology helps us provide better services than ever before.

What better way to recognize how we serve as a vehicle for change, than with a vehicle that highlights those changes? A vehicle that demonstrates that “Yes we can”? The Yes vehicle. The YES-UV.

Whatever we call it, the mobile media lab gives us a new way to take this message right in to your community. We’ll be looking for your ideas, your invitations. Where would you like to see our team demonstrate our newest efforts? Your kid’s school? A Saturday soccer tournament? The local carnival? Maybe Cherry Lane in York during lunchtime?

We are thrilled to have landed a DFM grant to fund this project. We are thrilled that York has landed this grant.