I was just at a very interesting conference on Mobile Media in Vilnius, where one of the most fascinating presentations was by Torry Pedersen of what used to be the Norwegian newspaper VG (Verdens Gang) but is now a kind of electronic, interactive, reader and citizen-driven infosphere. The used-to-be-just a newspaper has developed an information management platform that lets readers and tipsters send in photos and video clips, and, by the same token, is accessible on mobiles and the internet. VG beat major domestic media on a ship capsizing by having people overlooking the accident take digital photos, literally, out their window and e-mail them. It and other "wired" Scandinavian newspapers had phone-camera images of the tsunami even before the international news agencies, CNN, etc. had any idea of what was going on. Truly, the age of global news event coverage by the organization with the most camera teams and helicopters is over, what counts is being the first to have someone with a cameraphone tip you off.
Global news events don't happen that often, and "all news is local news", so the main function of this reader tip-network is to be the first to cover events such as traffic jams, accidents, fires, unexpected appearances by politicians and celebrities in Norway and the like. It is also possible for readers to "remote control" VG reporters, who then can ask their interview subjects questions from "Bjarne Andersen", an ordinary guy in an Oslo suburb concerned about taxes or some issue at the schools, and the answer (on video, in print, on mobiles) is then flashed out into the VG infosphere, giving our ficitious Bjarne his 15 minutes of fame and encouraging others to do the same.
During a conference lunch I sat with a person from a big Latvian daily and it was pretty clear from our conversation that the Latvian press is still in the dark ages as far as this kind of interactivity and state-of-the-art information management platform goes. Neither a certain paper I know very well, nor the paper represented by my conversation partner, nor, for that matter, Neatkariga Rita Avize (which claims to have launched a blogging site) are even close to anything like this.