The Times & CUNY (and others) go hyperlocal

The New York Times is about to announce that it is starting a hyperlocal product called The Local working with our students at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism. PaidContent has the story early. So I’ll tell you about the school’s and my involvement and plans.

At CUNY, we were working on a hyperlocal plan of our own, aimed at taking one New York neighborhood and turning it into the ultimate hyperlocal community as a showcase to both demonstrate how a community could be empowered to report on itself and to create a laboratory where our students could learn to interact with the public in new and collaborative ways. The problem with teaching interactive journalism, which is what we call my department, is that students don’t have a public with whom to interact.

I spoke about our needs and plans in a trade group meeting of online editors in The Times building and the paper’s digital head, Jon Landman, pulled me aside to say that The Times had its own similar plans. We decided, I’m delighted to say, to team up.

The Times is working in two neighborhoods in Brooklyn — Fort Greene and Clinton Hill — and three towns in New Jersey — Maplewood, Millburn, and South Orange. In each of these two pilots, they’ll have one journalist reporting but also working with the community in new ways. The Times’ goal, like ours, is to create a scalable platform (not just in terms of technology but in terms of support) to help communities organize their own news and knowledge. The Times needs this to be scalable; it can’t afford to – no metro paper can or has ever been able to afford to – pay for staff in every neighborhood and town.

We also need to find the ways to make this new structure sustainable with ad revenue; that’s why I’ve asked the business school at our fellow CUNY campus, Baruch, to lend business expertise, working with The Times’ business people. We need to find new ways to both serve and sell very local advertisers.

At CUNY, my faculty colleagues Sandeep Junnarkar (fellow interactive prof) and Jere Hester (head of our NYCity News Service) recruited a half-dozen students from many eager volunteers. They will work with the Times’ reporter and editors in Brooklyn to both report and help the community work on its own in ways we can only imagine now: recruiting people, training them, creating crowdsourced reporting projects, helping people create their own sites, and more. These are mostly new frontiers. Our students will also work on the project during the summer, as Times interns, to provide continuity.

We at CUNY are seeking a grant to then take this all up a few notches. If we are successful, we plan to hire a part-time faculty member to oversee the project, work with other faculty members in other courses (e.g., we offer an urban reporting track), and probably create a course around the effort. We will hire trainers to offer hundreds of locals courses in the essentials of new media tools and journalistic practices and buy some equipment to support that (think: lots of Flips). And we would record our lessons learned in a blog and manual for the benefit of other news organizations, communities, and journalism schools.

The entire effort kicks off this coming week with Phase I (that is, what we can do before we get full funding). See comments from Timesmen under the Brownstoner , TechCrunch , and PaidContent posts. I think there’s a bit too much talk there about using free labor from bloggers and students. Instead, I hope we’ll see economic models that help support their work and encourage more to join in. But everything in its time.

At the same time, there are other hyperlocal projects in New Jersey in which I have a glancing interest. Friend Debbie Galant at Baristanet – the queen of the hyperlocal bloggers – is now so successful that she is expanding, doing a deal with one other local site in Montclair, and planning to expand in more areas. She talks about it here. And there is Patch, personally funded by Google’s Tim Armstrong, which is covering the same towns in Jersey as The Times; he wants to help communities organize what they know.

The one bit of advice I’ve given all these players is not to compete but instead to collaborate. We have to move past the old newspaper notion that one organization will – and can afford to – “own” a town. Those days are over. Instead, we’ll have ecosystems of local news linked together, and to support them we need complementary content and coverage and networks to sell ads into and for all the players. In a network that links to its own members (as Glam as proven) all ships will ride with the tide of links.

Whether my Kumbaya intentions can come true or not, we at last may be on on the verge of finally tickling the golden fleece of hyperlocal. It matters that The New York Times is trying to build a platform to cover local communities not with its own staff but by empowering those communities. It matters that a technology and advertising leader like Armstrong is investing in local. It matters most of all that a journalist like Galant is succeeding at reporting on her communities – journalistically and commercially.

When I envision the future of local news – what rises out of the ashes of metro dailies (and witness this week’s news: they are burning) – these are the kinds of structures I envision at the center of it: new slices adding up to a new pie. There will still be news organizations – and their job will, indeed, be to organize news – but they will no longer be at the center but at the periphery, helping those inside. There will be people who contribute to the ecosystem for many reasons: to make money, to inform the community, to learn, to catch the bastards. There will need to be an economic system and model that can support the best of this. That’s the hardest part, I think. But this is a start. Bravo for it.

  • Kate Pastor

    How will this help CUNY grads like me who work for a local paper?

  • http://www.howardowens.com Howard Owens

    I’m skeptical on a few key points, based on a few years experience in this area.

    First, I agree that for online, metro areas need to be divided into neighborhoods for purposes of coverage. In most metro areas many neighborhoods still have a strong community life.

    I also believe with the right approach to local community news will not only attract an audience from today’s community activists, but help grow interest in local community affairs among those now on the margins of interest.

    We’re seeing that in Batavia.

    That said, I’m skeptical of Patchs. I think they’re right to hire staff in communities they presume to cover, but I’ve yet to see a nationally branded “hyperlocal” play (notice, I only use “hyperlocal” in derision) really get traction. For local to really work, the people in the local community really need identify the news source as their own. People of local interest are the kind of people to be tired of their corporate overlords. It’s not that they object to corporate ownership. They just don’t want to have their face rubbed in it by a national brand. They want their local site to have their own local site name on it.

    Which brings me to the second related point: the people running the site need to be personally identifiable to the community as part of the community. It’s best if they live in the community, but they at least need to come off as credibility concerned about that community and that community only. There is no substitute for real people in real communities. If you try to “scale” your local play without people, you’re doomed. It will be exceptionally difficult to drive participation and generate original content.

    Haven’t the failures of Backfence, YourHub, etc. taught us anything?

    As for news organizations cooperating on the web, that’s a two-sided coin for sure.

    On the content side, one thing newspaper fail to appreciate that unlike print, online audience is not a zero sum game. If the audience finds two sites appealing, readers will use both sites. But on the revenue side, there’s a sad truth to confront: Local advertisers work with very limited budgets. They are exceptionally unlikely to support two or more sites. This monetary truth makes cooperation highly unlikely and potentially suicidal. You can be as progressive and creative as you like on the contents side, but if you can’t make money, you won’t stay in business.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Howard,
      The people involved in these projects do live in the areas or are concerned with them. Look at the comments of the Times people.
      As for your first point: Yes, that is the point.
      So I’m not sure why you need to start off as the public skeptic. Give peace a chance, brother.

      • http://www.howardowens.com Howard Owens

        Jeff, you wrote, “The Times needs this to be scalable; it can’t afford to – no metro paper can or has ever been able to afford to – pay for staff in every neighborhood and town.”

        That’s an unsustainable approach. Each community must have its own staff.

        Patches appears to be intent on doing that. That’s good. But the national brand is a liability.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          Howard,
          Strongly disagree. Each community has NEVER had its own staff. Define community to my neighborhood in my town. There’s not a reporter covering us. But a platform could help us cover ourselves.

        • http://www.howardowens.com Howard Owens

          But each community MUST have its own staff. That’s one of the things that must change. And it’s own brand.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          Doesn’t scale.

        • http://wyman.us/ Bob Wyman

          Howard, I think you are completely wrong about the value of local brands. In fact, I would argue that the past failures in “hyper-local” news are largely because producers have insisted on maintaining local brands. If you argue that they “must have local brands” then you should at least offer some evidence or logical argument. Repetition doesn’t make truth.

          The reality is that local brands simply increase the “friction” required to get local news. By making it harder to get news, they result in less local news being read. People need news at a variety of scopes and it is easiest for them to get it from a single source. If multiple sources need to be remembered and accessed, the inevitable result is that some sources will typically be accessed first and others later. For most people, it is likely that the “first” source read will be non-local…

          The ideal news source would be one that I picked based on political perspective (left, right, center), quality of writing, etc. It would then provide all the news I needed at all levels and would customize its presentation to me based on knowledge of my residence, location of work place, industry, interests, etc. You may argue that folk who’ve tried to build such a system have, so far, failed. Nonetheless, that is precisely what we will have one day.

          Local brands are not a must. In fact, by emphasizing the distinction between local and non-local content they compromise the local news providers by increasing the friction presented to news readers. Local brands will be seen to have negative, not positive value.

          bob wyman

        • Scott

          Assumedly most people only live in one place, so why is knowing the name of their local paper or hyperlocal web site so difficult? Also, having three hyperlocal sites (right, left, and center) certainly will not scale.

        • http://burden.ca/blog/ Tim Burden

          (sorry for the repost – something’s wrong with the ordering of these comments)

          To Bob Wyman:

          “The ideal news source would be one that I picked based on political perspective (left, right, center), quality of writing, etc. It would then provide all the news I needed at all levels and would customize its presentation to me based on knowledge of my residence, location of work place, industry, interests, etc. You may argue that folk who’ve tried to build such a system have, so far, failed. Nonetheless, that is precisely what we will have one day.”

          What do you mean, one day? We have that now. It’s called a city newspaper. They provide a mix of stuff from all levels, they (usually) have well-defined political leanings, they know where you live, and you can throw out the sections you hate.

          Online, we have the power to aggregate. We can get the stuff from all levels from disparate sources without much trouble. We certainly don’t need one website to do it all for us and I would argue that’s a bad idea. Original content should go on one website and be aggregated by others.

          What hyperlocal gives us is the most natural place to form online communities around news content. That’s why I think Howard is probably right about the brand thing. It seems right that a person is more likely to commit to a community if they know and trust (or at least know) the people running it.

          Anyway, we need experiments with both to determine for sure who’s right. Go Jeff.

        • http://www.howardowens.com Howard Owens

          And you won’t get participation without professional curators and cheerleaders in each town — people that people identify with. The model you’re proposing Jeff has been tried before and failed. There’s no end of a long list of national-play “hyperlocal” sites that have failed to get traction because the lack of human coordination and communication. Topix has been trying to develop this kind of echo system for years and has failed to get traction in all but a few locations. If this model were going to work, it would have worked already.

        • http://www.pulaskicountydaily.com Darrell Todd Maurina

          No disagreement, Howard — Topix generally is less than useless. This community has two internet discussion sites that regularly comment on local news, http://www.pulaskicountyweb.com and http://www.pulaskicountyinsider.com. (Full disclosure: The Pulaski County Web owner does my web design.)

          But Topix isn’t always useless.

          It may be unique to this area because of the Army with people all over the country paying attention to Fort Leoanrd Wood, but our local items do attract a fair amount of comment. We had a recent meningitis outbreak at Fort Leonard Wood that got national media attention through the Associated Press and Topix had enough comments I had to pay attention to it. Same for a recent case of a soldier who is being court-martialed for raping and killing the wife of another soldier while her husband was in Iraq.

          One **MAJOR** problem with Topix is that as far as I can tell it’s virtually unmoderated. That’s created major problems with stuff that I consider not just false rumors but outright libel getting posted there and basically going unchallenged.

          Community comment is a good thing. Slander and libel are still illegal, even if they’re written with electrons and not ink.

        • http://medianation.blogspot.com Dan Kennedy

          We’ve got three full-time reporters from two different newspapers covering our rather small town.

        • James Blackman

          But why would people WANT to do that, with any depth or time, without getting paid? Who is going to spend time in the courts, the council meetings, interviewing the police, getting vox poxes, talking to sub-comittees, spending weeks (and plenty of cash) writing fascinating features etc…totally free of charge? How long would their motivation last?

          The reporters will need to be paid – I can’t say how it would work no matter how attractive it sounds for “communities to cover themselves.”

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      And dare I add: This ecosystem is going to work only through the kind of links that Gatehouse forbids.

      • http://www.howardowens.com Howard Owens

        Ah, Jeff, you’re a good troll, but I won’t take the bait now. I’ll keep my powder dry for my own blog.

    • http://www.pulaskicountydaily.com Darrell Todd Maurina

      BINGO!!! Howard Owens gets it! (Too bad he couldn’t say some of those things publicly while he was still at GateHouse.)

      This is what I’m happy to see: “For local to really work, the people in the local community really need identify the news source as their own. People of local interest are the kind of people to be tired of their corporate overlords. It’s not that they object to corporate ownership. They just don’t want to have their face rubbed in it by a national brand.”

      After 19 years in the print media, I’m running an internet-only newspaper in a rapidly growing community outside Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri where GateHouse Media drastically cut the staff, moved most of the non-news jobs to an adjoining county that is a major economic rival, fired a well-loved publisher, and in the last half-year has had a 100 percent newsroom turnover with virtually the entire staff not only coming from out of town and but also now living in a city 30 minutes away that is a major economic rival.

      What’s wrong with this picture?

      I left GateHouse Media totally voluntarily, and deciding to do an Internet startup was an extremely hard decision for somebody with ink running in my veins for two generations (mom was a J-school grad in the 1950s back when women just DIDN’T do those things). The number one reason I got the courage to do this was the backing of angry local business leaders who valued old-fashioned muckraking journalism, not “pretty puppy dog” stuff, and were upset that their money was going to support out-of-town staff and basically believed their local newspaper was no longer local.

      I’m not convinced that print newspapers can’t survive for at least one more generation in rural America. The weeklies around here work, often because their staff members have spent a decade or more in the community, know their people EXTREMELY wekk, and regularly break news we in the daily newspapers and broadcast media don’t know anything about. But in the long run, the only was for newspapers to survive — whether in print or online –is with the backing of local people, both local readers and local businesses. Those who forget that have signed their own death warrants.

      I’ve written a bit more about that here:

      http://pulaskicountyweb.com/smf/index.php?topic=15038.0

  • http://www.howardowens.com Howard Owens

    BTW: Now that I’m no longer an employee of GHM, I can write about the case and will. Got other posts to write to, so it will take a week or two or more to roll out all my thoughts … but lots to say … and I suspect you won’t like it.

    • invitedmedia

      you’re no longer head honcho @ gatehouse?

      • http://www.howardowens.com Howard Owens

        I was never head honcho.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          You were of digital, no?

      • invitedmedia

        i just got back from the ghse.pk message board over at yahoo! and withdraw my question.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      If it is to defend Gatehouse’s policy toward links, then, yes, you can be assured we will disagree.

  • http://www.managingmagic.com/ D.G.

    I think this is an exciting development. There are many people out there who make a punt at trying to be a blogger, but then quickly give up. This is because they find it difficult to attract an audience. I think there is a real opportunity in getting community blogging working if these hyper-local news sites can help the bloggers overcome this hurdle.

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  • http://www.communiywebsites.com Tom Vellaringattu

    Jeff,

    I believe the right thing to do is to build the right technology and license to local newspapers to expand the business models. All are forgetting about helping the small businesses who do not have the ability and time to go online effectively and be found on search engines. A lot of web designers and yellow page companies are taking them for a ride. They need easy web pages connected to the community websites. They need SEO, they need to connect with local residents using facebook, twitter and other social networking. The bloggers and students should get involved through http://www.writerspan.com and share revenue and the local newspaper should control the content editing and management. We have a solution ready for this and going live by end of March. Your comments are welcome. [email protected]

    • http://gowanus.com eric

      good luck tom.

      there are many others with a spin to play. even me. i wont be live for another 6 months or so.

      but there is plenty of time. there will be a great feeding frenzy on the carcass of MSM. bring some salt. and some charcoal.

  • http://www.allyourtv.com Rick Ellis

    From what I can tell of this idea (and granted, I’m just going by what I see here and at the links above), we still haven’t cracked the biggest problem with any hyperlocal site. Which is advertising.

    There are really only two approaches. Either connect a bunch of hyper sites together under one ad network, or leave each site to try and build a hyperlocal ad base of its own. And as anyone who’s tried to do that can tell you, while it can be done, it’s extremely hard work.

    The common thread in all these hyperlocal ideas is that you can always find a few local folks who’ll contribute to a blog or small site. The issue is trying to figure out a way to bring in some revenue. If you don’t, you’re dependent entirely on volunteers whose ambitions are limited to their amount of spare time and drive.

    • http://www.our-hometown.com Stephen Larson

      Amazing that your comment is the only one to bring up revenues.

      • http://gowanus.com eric

        problem is he brings up ads. ads will augment, not drive.

        the reader will determine the value of everything. and the horse is out of the barn on MSM controlling ad revenue. the distribution model is broken. let it erode on the side of the road. dont drag it along into the future.

    • http://www.allyourtv.com Rick Ellis

      Eric, I don’t think ad revenue is a MSM-centric issue. Blogads and similar efforts are also ad revenue, and for a lot of smaller web sites, they’re a substantial part of the revenue.

      Hey, I’m in favor of doing things for the passion of the work. I’ve had a site for ten years that was always nothing more than “that thing I did after my real job ended.” It wasn’t until I was laid off last spring that I really tried to make some reasonable money off of it.

      But during all those years when I was doing it for the joy of it, my passion and the time I had for it varied a lot. One month I doing reporting that gets me mentioned in places like Vanity Fair. The next month I barely spend any time on it.

      That’s the downside of passion-based journalism, and I think when a lot of people talk about these hyperlocal efforts, they just assume that talented volunteers will be willing to commit large amounts of time.

      I figure that if we don’t come up with ways of driving some revenue, most of these efforts will just fade away.

      • James Blackman

        Good, insightful journalism often costs lots of money and time.

        You have to pay people to do it well.

        Who is going to do good, insightful journalism for free?

      • Andy Freeman

        Yes, good insightful journalism often costs lots of time and money and you have to pay people to do it.

        However, those facts don’t justify paying folks who don’t do “good insightful journalism”. They have to justify their pay some other way, or do without.

        I mention that because the vast majority of what passes for “news” isn’t “good insightful journalism”. It’s rewritten press-releases.

        I believe that folks will pay for good insightful journalism. However, they’re not going to pay for rewritten press releases.

        If I’m correct, the biz model for news will be different than it is today. Journalists who live up to the promises will be rewarded but folks who don’t will have a hard time.

        For some reason, news folks hate that idea.

    • Andy Freeman

      > There are really only two approaches. Either connect a bunch of hyper sites together under one ad network, or leave each site to try and build a hyperlocal ad base of its own. And as anyone who’s tried to do that can tell you, while it can be done, it’s extremely hard work.

      Even if you assume that hyperlocal content requires hyperlocal ads (which it doesn’t), those aren’t the only two alternatives.

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  • http://missionlocal.org Lydia Chavez

    Jeff:

    Very exciting experiment. We have our own at UC Berkeley and I’m involved with missionlocal.org, covering SF’s Mission district of about 62,000. We went live in October and are learning on the run–literally. The time and energy it takes to both train and keep the sites fresh makes me–and my students–feel like we’re working on a start up We are and it’s a blast, but sustainability–financial and energy-wise– remains the big question. The biggest lesson of the last six months? What newspapers have known all along–that it takes trained staff to produce or monitor quality content. Now, we have to figure out how the professionals we train or hire get paid. Another big lesson? Readers are hungry for good content. That keeps us going. Best and good luck! Experiment away and if you find any answers send them our way. We will do the same. Best, Lydia

  • Tobe Berkovitz

    If advertising is seen as a key revenue stream for the hyperlocal journalism venture, and students are a significant part of the team, why not involve students from advertising, PR and marketing as well? At Boston University’s College of Communication we have a student operated ad agency, AdLab, http://www.bu.edu/adlab/. It works for a wide range of clients; corporate, entrepreneurial small businesses, local retailers and non-profits. Also, many student newspapers have ad sales departments.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      tobe,
      would love to hear more. we are planning to involve business students from Baruch.

  • http://www.eastvllagepodcasts.com East Village Podcasts

    Bring your crew to the East Village, Jeff. I like the idea of a scalable platform to provide local coverage. I just don’t know how it’s going to pay for itself, but perhaps you, the Times, whomever, can figure it out. I’m all for it.

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  • http://www.sunvalleyonline.com Dave Chase

    Call me a simpleton but one can debate why previous hyperlocal sites failed but the obvious point is they made less money than they spent. Most of the debates are academic if the revenue model isn’t figured out. The primary driver of those failures wasn’t whether it was a local or national brand. I’ve worked on both national (Sidewalk) and local (SunValleyOnline.com) and frankly the local audience didn’t really care about the brand itself if the site was useful. E.g., I bet there are a bunch of Baristanet readers who also spend time with the NYtimes, Facebook, etc. which they find of use and don’t care if they are “local” or not.

    We’ve made a heck of a lot more progress on finding a viable business model at SunValleyOnline than Sidewalk but I don’t think it’s because our brand is local. We don’t have all the answers but I did share my “Ten Point Plan to (Re)Building a Successful Local Media Salesforce” at the site David Cohn and Jeff have for their New Business Models for News Summit
    http://newsinnovation.com/2009/01/26/ten-point-plan-to-rebuilding-a-successful-local-media-salesforce/. It followed up an earlier piece “Five Fatal Flaws Killing Local Internet Plays”. I wish there was as much sharing of successes/failures on the monetization side as the production side. Nothing will scale without monetization no matter how clever the production process is.

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  • http://onemanonejournal.blogspot.com/ Christopher Leone

    Dear Jeff,
    I cannot tell you enough how much I appreciate your insights. I’m half way thru WWGD and now this article are really helping me to define my thoughts around community and creating a connected community.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Thanks so much, Christopher.

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  • http://burden.ca/blog/ Tim Burden

    To Bob Wyman:

    “The ideal news source would be one that I picked based on political perspective (left, right, center), quality of writing, etc. It would then provide all the news I needed at all levels and would customize its presentation to me based on knowledge of my residence, location of work place, industry, interests, etc. You may argue that folk who’ve tried to build such a system have, so far, failed. Nonetheless, that is precisely what we will have one day.”

    What do you mean, one day? We have that now. It’s called a city newspaper. They provide a mix of stuff from all levels, they (usually) have well-defined political leanings, they know where you live, and you can throw out the sections you hate.

    Online, we have the power to aggregate. We can get the stuff from all levels from disparate sources without much trouble. We certainly don’t need one website to do it all for us and I would argue that’s a bad idea. Original content should go on one website and be aggregated by others.

    What hyperlocal gives us is the most natural place to form online communities around news content. That’s why I think Howard is probably right about the brand thing. It seems right that a person is more likely to commit to a community if they know and trust (or at least know) the people running it.

    Anyway, we need experiments with both to determine for sure who’s right. Go Jeff.

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  • http://www.pulaskicountydaily.com Darrell Todd Maurina

    My comment (above) has some annoying typos, and I decided I wanted to add some things about revenue. Can the web administrator delete the “reply” above, and just leave these here at the end of this thread rather than up above?

    _____

    BINGO!!! Howard Owens gets it! (Too bad he couldn’t say some of those things publicly while he was still at GateHouse — or if he did, we weren’t getting them down at our local level.)

    This is what I’m happy to see from Mr. Owens: “For local to really work, the people in the local community really need identify the news source as their own. People of local interest are the kind of people to be tired of their corporate overlords. It’s not that they object to corporate ownership. They just don’t want to have their face rubbed in it by a national brand.”

    After 19 years in the print media, I’m running an internet-only newspaper in a rural but rapidly growing community outside Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. In this town, GateHouse Media drastically cut the staff of the local daily newspaper, moved most of the non-news jobs to an adjoining county that is a major economic rival, fired a well-loved publisher who dedicated many decades — virtually his entire adult life — to GateHouse and the precedessor owners of the local newspaper cluster, and in the last half-year has had a 100 percent newsroom turnover with virtually the entire staff not only coming from out of town and but also now living in a city 30 minutes away that is a major economic rival.

    What’s wrong with this picture?

    I left GateHouse Media totally voluntarily, and deciding to do an Internet startup was an extremely hard decision for somebody with ink running in my veins for two generations (mom was a J-school grad in the 1950s back when women just DIDN’T do those things). The number one reason I got the courage to do this was the backing of angry local business leaders who valued old-fashioned muckraking journalism, not “pretty puppy dog” stuff, and were upset that their money was going to support out-of-town staff and basically believed their local newspaper was no longer local.

    That, I believe, is the key to revenue issues. Go back to your history books. How did Pulitzer, Scripps, Hearst, etc. start? In most cases, today’s major national media either 1) began as relatively small entrepreneurship operations that recruited kick-butt reporters who grew their newspapers by running circles around the competition to the point that they became “must-read” operations, or 2) were funded by what we would today call large “equity investors” who believed in the value of news and were willing to provide the startup capital and ongoing cash infusions necessary to produce a quality product until it attracted enough attention to get enough advertisers and stand on its own.

    In this rural community outside one of America’s largest Army installations, there are three paid weeklies, the Army’s free-distribution weekly, several civilian free-distribution weeklies, one GateHouse-owned daily, a mostly-news radio station that does in this town what television would do in a larger city, two major internet discussion forums (one of which I work with closely) and since shortly after the November elections, my online internet newspaper. The common thread of all the weeklies and the news radio station is that their staff have been around a **VERY** long time and have the trust of the community and therefore the advertising dollars flow based on personal relationships, even in tough economic times. The GateHouse daily, by contrast, is getting too many of its ads from out of town and is viewed as promoting out-of-town businesses. Some of the main people paying my bills are local business owners who are angry the local newspaper is promoting out-of-town businesses.

    I’m not convinced that print newspapers can’t survive for at least one more generation in rural America. The weeklies around here work, often because their staff members have spent a decade or more in the community, know their people EXTREMELY well, and regularly break news that we in the daily newspapers and broadcast media don’t know anything about. But in the long run, the only way for newspapers to survive — whether in print or online –is with the backing of local people, both local readers and local businesses. Those who forget that have signed their own death warrants.

    I’ve written a bit more about that here:

    http://pulaskicountyweb.com/smf/index.php?topic=15038.0

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  • James Blackman

    JJust as an aside, why are the called “hyper” local sites. Why not just “local”. Always confused me? I think “local” site sounds far better and is less likely to isolate older readers.

    That’s all.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      The Boston Globe was considered local. Something covering something smaller – town or neighborhood or community – is now called hyperlocal. You’re right, though: the proper definition should be that the latter is local.

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  • http://www.reparar-mi-credito.com reparar mi credito

    what about the papers being of the same name, but in different towns,that make it even more difficult