Hyper times

For the record, I do not count The New York Times ending its New Jersey version of The Local and passing over its readers to Baristanet as a failure. The idea that The Times could have owned and run a blog with a journalist in every town and neighborhood in New York — let alone America — simply didn’t scale. The more important skill for The Times to learn is working with networks of independent entrepreneurs who own and run their own local enterprises. That’s what will scale. So I say this is a step forward. (Disclosures: CUNY, where I teach, is running The Local in Brooklyn.)

  • Stops updating site, redirects to competitor, found it couldn’t scale and now needs to build a network it never new it needed. Sure sounds like failure to me.

    How Patch doing with this non-scalable idea?

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  • Hey Jeff,

    I’m not sure what distinction you’re drawing here between the NYT and Baristanet. The Times wasn’t trying to run a blog with a journalist in every town and neighborhood; they were trying to create a network of citizen journalists and contributors, right? What about the approach couldn’t scale? If it couldn’t scale in NJ, then why won’t the experiment in Brooklyn end the same way?

    • Steve,
      They started with a staff journalist in each. That wouldn’t scale and they’d be the first to say so. But each was quite valuable, I think they’d agree, because it began to change the way the Times — even the Times, to their considerable credit — related to and now collaborated with the community. That’s huge and I think they got that out of having staff there. But, again, it wouldn’t scale. So they need new structures. I’ve been pushing the network model very hard indeed and that is what we are going to work on in Brooklyn. We are going to concentrate on nurturing the ecosystem — finding the ways we (CUNY and The Times, each in our own ways) can help the bloggers there now and to inspire more to do it. Among the possibilities: giving classes in new media tools and journalism and helping improve advertising revenue through new thing to sell in new ways with new people — both projects we are working on in Brooklyn at CUNY.

      • Bill

        Jeff –

        I think you’ve hit on the really interesting question in your last sentence- how to ‘improve advertising revenue through new things to sell in new ways to new people’.

        Or for the consultants – how to maximize efficiencies and capture value in untapped ad markets. This is where I see the least innovation and the greatest need.

        Newspapers aren’t alone here – free content means the supply of audience has outstripped the demand for advertising. This is the fundamental shift that is striking at the heart of old-line media companies.

        Low cost, low touch, highly distributed, high volume sales networks need to be built to support both emergent and existing content providers. Would love to hear about the work you and the folks at CUNY are doing in this space.

        Thanks for the blog – really enjoy your insights

      • Sorry, not getting this “couldn’t scale” stuff.

        How come Baristanet can supposedly create a successful hyperlocal site and the NYT can’t? Is it because Baristanet journos earn a fraction of what a Times reporter makes?

        Something here does not compute.

  • Hi Jeff!

    I wasn’t sure where to post this but wanted to share a review of your book which I just posted on my blog @ http://WholesomeChow.wordpress.com. I hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think! I’ve been reading WWGD and am so inspired to run my own business in a way which google does: working with my customers to create awesome products. Thanks for spreading this knowledge!

    Thanks again!

    Much Love,

    Wholesome Chow
    fresh. natural. always delicious fun.

    • Veronica,
      Thanks much. I beat you to it tweeting thanks for your kind words.

  • Emilio Deheza

    Hey Jeff, good idea: “The more important skill for The Times to learn is working with networks of independent entrepreneurs who own and run their own local enterprises.”
    Sort of what Apple is achieving with the vast network of App developers for the iPhone & the iPad! You’ve got it!

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