Departures is HyperLoco – Insanely Good Public Media








If you want to find a public station that’s got it right, swing on over to KCET-TV in Los Angeles, where the hyperlocal project called Departures is so crazy-good that I’ve mashed up a new word to describe it: HyperLoco.

According to the recently redesigned website, “Departures is KCET’s hyper-local web documentary, community engagement tool and digital literacy program about the cultural history of Los Angeles’ neighborhoods.”

That doesn’t sound nearly as exciting or exhilarating as the project truly is. Departures is a vibrant hub for media that takes you on an unforgettable tour of the real L.A. through the stories of people who are the heart of its communities. The site includes mapping, video portraits, audio, slide shows and more.

One of the coolest and most innovative things you’ll find on Departures are its digital panoramic murals – cut and spliced mash-ups of stellar fresh and archival photography. Imagine walking down a city street teeming with people, colors, vehicles, sounds, signs, buildings. That kind of energy pulses through these online murals which are artistic, provocative, interactive and addictive.

Departures is an outgrowth of KCET’s WebStories project which produced content on the of cutting-edge cultural journalism. Executive Producer Juan Devis is the man behind the magic. In an interview with LA Weekly, Devis explained what inspired this work. 

“I started by building on the love I have for L.A. and the energy of the city and the stories and places that are completely outside what we normally think defines the city.”

That means that the people and communities themselves are departures from what’s usually covered by the mainstream media. And the project itself is a departure for public television, which has had tremendous success attracting both preschool and aging audiences. Departures is aimed squarely at the coveted 18-35 year old demographic. 

Devis told LA Weekly that “the web seemed to be a perfect place to explore how a local station might reach that audience.These projects are an attempt to become relevant again. They’re a way for a TV station to be out in the world, and instead of reporting to people, collaborating with them.”

That collaboration is happening through an impressively designed youth media curriculum which teaches teen producers multimedia production and community storytelling. 

You can learn more about Departures by spending some time on its site. And, you can hear about the project’s mission directly from its creator Juan Devis, who spoke last fall at National Arts Journalism Summit. Here’s the video.

Departures isn’t a brand new project. It’s been around the block and even caught the attention of the New York Times a few years back. But its now sporting a new “skin.” And, as an on-going, open-ended community documentary project, it is rich with both evergreen content and new treasures waiting to be discovered. I think it’s awesome.

What do you think of Departures?