Posts about hyperlocal

Arianna invades Chicago

Last night at one of the Guardian’s Future of Journalism sessions they are running for staff (and putting online), editor Alan Rusbridger had a conversation with Arianna Huffington and I do believe this is new: Arianna is going local. She’ll devote one editor to curating news and blog posts in the market. Jemima Kiss beat me to blogging this (she must have had less of the red wine at the dinner afterwards). She just added a green section and will launch books, international, and sports soon.

“We are an aspiring newspaper,” she said.

I was just with Emily Bell, head of digital at the Guardian, and she used the right word to describe this: Agile. Arianna and company decide to start taking over the world and they just do it. Big, old newspapers plan and fret instead. Want to offer readers a new area of coverage? Start with one editor, find out what’s available, and get moving. Agile.

The coming battle over local, local news video

NBC is going to start a 24-hour local TV channel in New York, competing with lots of other players: Time Warner’s NY1 and Cablevision’s News12s, not to mention newspaper video — see Rachel Sterne’s argument that newspapers are starting to steal the beat on live video from TV — and lots of independent comers — see Josh Wolf’s experiment in a live video network covering the Olympics torch protests on the West Coast using mobile phones, Qik, Twitter, and more.

It’s crowded turf, local. But this is exactly where local broadcast must seek its future — its survival — while its value of a distributor diminishes to zero.

Steve Safran lectures broadcasters, telling them that their salvation is not technology but local. I think the mistake is for broadcasters to think media at all: It’s about real reporting (of which local TV news does precious little, let’s remember — nobody needs fires 24/7), real service, a real connection with the community across any and all media. It’s not about channels or even web sites or mobile. It’s about service and a meaningful connection with the community.

And it’s about finding ways to serve many more, much smaller advertisers in many ways. There, local broadcasters will battle with local newspapers and with local cable MSOs and there’s no way to predict the winner. The war is on.

The Wall Street Journal says of the NBC project:

NBC is investing several million dollars in the venture, building a “content center” that will house local TV staff and operations. NBC doesn’t plan to hire a new staff for the channel, but instead said it will retrain its existing staff to produce news for the regular affiliate broadcasts, the 24-hour network and a new version of WNBC’s Web site, to be called NBC New York.

If successful, the New York channel will serve as a model for other markets, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Chicago, where NBC owns the NBC-branded local station. In most smaller markets, the NBC-branded affiliate is owned by another affiliate group.

“We think this will be better for advertisers,” said WNBC General Manager Tom O’Brien. “We’ll be able to aggregate different audiences and create a bigger audience, and that gives us a lot more opportunities to go to the advertising marketplace.”

CBS stations’ local ad network

It warms my cockles to see a local blog ad network start, especially from a company as big as CBS’ station group.

They just announced a new widget ad network in 13 of their local markets (the owned & operated stations with newsrooms). In a week and a half, they’ve put together 80 blogs in the network, many more to come. They are all local blogs around various content interests: news, politics, sports, real estate, entertainment. This is pretty much just an ad network rather than a curated ad-and-content network like Glam. CBS intends to send the blogs some traffic, but unlike Glam, it’s not aggregating and curating their content. They’re looking for decent blogs that are local and are updated regularly, but they’re not yet turning this into a contest where the best quality wins (that day will come, I hope). When I spoke with them, they did add that they’re delighted with the quality of the local blogs they’ve seen.

You can see an example of the ad unit here and here: a constant feed of content (video stills in most cases, text in others) over an ad unit. So far, they’ve sold AT&T, Liberty Mutual, and the Honda dealer group in Dallas. They will sell in both local and national ads; it’s too soon to know what that mix will be, but they anticipate about an even split.

This is a model I like and one I’ve been pushing with companies I know: You could look at this as an ad with content attached or as content with an ad attached. So the blogger gets an ad, revenue, a some small dollop of content, and an association with a major media brand (which some still value). The station gets to push its advertiser as well as its content and brand and gets an association with those cool bloggers and its gets new inventory and audience. The advertiser has a better idea of the environment because there’s content next to the ad and because the station picks the blogs. What’s not to love?

The CBS unit also carries the local station’s branding plus a link to a pitch to join the network. Here are examples of the units.

I spoke with Jonathan Leess, president and general manager of the CBS station digital group, and Aaron Radin, senior vp for their ad sales and biz dev. They understand that this is not just about driving traffic to CBS domains but about reaching audience they may not now serve in other places. That’s the attitude.

I had to pull numbers out of them like baby teeth. They’re telling the bloggers to expect an effective CPM of about 50 cents but they quickly acknowledge that they’re subsidizing and backfilling the network, which is brand new. That is, they’re not yet selling the high-value ads and they’re not selling out, so they are putting in lower-value advertising in some cases and throwing in a subsidy on top. So that’s the net-net bloggers can expect today. But that’s not the value they’re selling to advertisers. That, they said, is more like a $10 CPM (though all life is negotiable). Compare that with $8-20 CPMs on CBS domain banner ads and $16-25 on video inventory. If they can sell a CPM approaching a double digit for local blogs and sell through enough inventory, that could be healthy. In the end, I ask, what will the value of a network impression be relative to a CBS domain impression? Again, it’s too early to say, but Radin guesses one third to one half.

They hope to add 20 million incremental (that is, new) ad impressions per month per market, though they’re quick to add that their goal isn’t just ad impressions but also new audience. Amen. And note that they’re pushing not just web pages but also those high-value video views. Leess and Radin said they serve 20-25 million streams a month, about half of that from the stations’ sites and half from syndication to Yahoo.

By the way, Buzzmachine is not local so it won’t qualify. Drat. When will somebody start that media wonks’ network?

The Networked Journalism Summit

Here, at last, is a full description of the Networked Journalism Summit we’ve been organizing at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. I’m really excited about the event: a great list of people participating, many best practices and lessons to share, lots of possibility for new efforts to come out of the meeting:

* * *

The Networked Journalism Summit — bringing together the best practices and practitioners in collaborative, pro-am journalism — will be held on Oct. 10 at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, thanks to a grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

This is a day about action: next steps, new projects, new partnerships, new experiments. The first two-thirds of the day will be devoted to sharing lessons, ideas, and plans with a representative sample of different kinds of efforts, hyperlocal to national to international, with participants from big and small media, from editorial and business, from the U.S., Canada, the U.K, Germany, and France. The last third of the day will be devoted to what’s next, with participants meeting to come up with new collaborations.

What makes this meeting different? We hope this does:
* It’s about action and next steps, not talk.
* The panel discussions will be discussions, not presentations. Every session will start with very brief introductions and then go immediately to discussion from the entire room.
* This is made possible by write-ups of the work being done by everyone in the room that will be distributed before the meeting. David Cohn is reporting some of these (and they are beginning to appear on this blog); the participants will submit more. This give everyone a headstart and lets them get right to their questions. You can read these starting now at the summit blog.
* We will followup on the actions pledged by the participants with reports on progress that will be shared on this blog.
* No MSM-bashing or blog-bashing allowed. We’ll gong it off. This is about working together. The snarking is over.
We hope people leave with a lot of new information and inspiration, with new partners, and with new steps to take to spread journalism in their communities.

The premise of all this is that even as journalistic organizations may shrink, along with their revenue bases, journalism itself can and must expand and it will do that through collaborative work. The internet makes that collaboration possible and we’ve barely begun to explore the opportunities it affords. A year or two ago, the point of such a meeting might have been evangelizing this idea. But in that time, a number of great projects in collaborative, networked journalism have taken off. So now is the time to share the lessons — success and failures — from these efforts and to determine what’s needed to move on to the next goals. By bringing together about 150 practitioners from all sides, we hope that the meeting itself can spark new partnerships and projects.

Among the sessions planned:
* Sharing experience from hyperlocal projects.
* Early efforts to make money at this: ad networks, print publications (ironically), independent businesses.
* International efforts from the UK and Germany.
* Reports from visible projects, including Gannett’s reorganization of its newsrooms around citizen participation, Jay Rosen’s experience with NewAssignment.net, and Now Public.
* Video and broadcast projects.
* Projects built around data as news.
* New tools.
* Political efforts.

In the afternoon, the participants will split into groups — local east or west, national, business, multimedia, revenue, tools, and other groups that form at the meeting — to pledge next steps. After reporting back to the meeting as a whole on these promised efforts, all will be rewarded with wine.

We have a great cross-section of different kinds of efforts, different models, and different locales. There is room for a few more. If you are interested in attending, please email David Cohn, who has been doing a great job organizing the conference and the information around it: dcohn1@gmail.com.

The meeting will begin at the auditorium in the new New York Times headquarters on 40th Street and 8th Avenue in New York. It will then move next door to the new CUNY Graduate School of Journalism at 219 W. 40th Street, New York.

This meeting is made possible entirely through a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The summit is organized by Jeff Jarvis, who heads the interactive journalism program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and blogs on journalism and media at Buzzmachine.com. The school has just begun its second year as the only publicly supported school of journalism in the Northeast.

The next meeting at CUNY, early next year, will focus on new business models for news.

The citpaper

Just saw that the Chicago Tribune is following Bakersfield’s Northwest Voice and taking citizen content contributed online and then freeze-drying it into a print publication it is distributing in a handful of suburbs.

I’m jealous. I always wanted to do something like this when I was involved with local papers.

I think there are also more ways to push the model, some I hope we can discuss at the networked jouralism conference we’re having at CUNY on Oct. 10. For example:

You don’t need to have everything come to you at the site, Backfence-like. You can go to the local bloggers and get news from their blogs. You can encourage them to do more and get more bloggers to blog. You can pay them to encourage them to contribute what you need (it’ll be cheaper than paying staff and they won’t complain as much). The bloggers can perhaps take charge of organizing the news in the community and you help them. You make the product the center of a hyperlocal ad netework, which any of the participants can sell into.

The start of something small. And that could be big.