“We’ve already got 10,000 unique visitors, 38,000 page views and more than 600 Facebook likes” since Putnam Daily Voice launched in the 100,000-population county two weeks ago, Daily Voice CEO Carll Tucker said. “People are thrilled.”
The site has plenty of high-profile competitors in Putnam. One is Gannett’s Lo-Hud subscription network, which serves Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties in the Lower Hudson Valley. Another is the print and digital Putnam County News and Recorder, which Fox News CEO Roger Ailes bought in 2010 and is run by his wife, Elizabeth. Still another is print tabloid The Paper, which serves the Putnam town of Philipstown and was started in 2012 by Gordon Stewart, a business executive who was a speechwriter for Jimmy Carter.
Putnam, which is about 15 miles north of New York City, includes nine towns and villages.
Tucker said Putnam Daily Voice’ was launched “with zero expansion” of staff, which includes eight reporters covering a number of communities in the New York-Connecticut suburbs. The comparatively small reporting staff can handle the extra editorial load in Putnam because of the network’s still-evolving news model, Tucker said. The new model has five categories:
1. Urgent news that includes aggregation of 100 basic information sources, like police, fire and traffic reports, weather, Twitter, competing news sites and breaking news that’s compiled into original stories by volunteer “community advisers” who can includes knowledgeable people up to the mayor of the town.
2. Events, which the events editor can channel to one or multiple communities in the network.
3. “Neighborhood stories” of about 300 words on average that are done “the old-fashioned way by boots-on-the-ground” staff reporters who interview subjects in their communities.
4. Real estate news, which is produced by staff of local realty companies.
5. Restaurant and dining news — still in development — which is produced by community contributors. “We already have 87 responses from people who want to do it,” Tucker said.
Tucker said the Putnam site got off to a strong start in advertising, especially in real estate. While the Putnam Daily Voice has three on-the-scene competitors, Tucker said he sees Google News and Facebook as the site’s chief rivals. “They sell a lot more advertising than all those other sites combined,” he said.
Daily Voice reported its first “unit” profitability — what the 41 sites did but but excluding corporate staffing and other expenses — last year after burning through $18 million put up by the corporation’s core investor group.
In early 2013, Daily Voice experienced “near-death” after its expansion into Central Massachusetts failed and overall editorial and other costs spiraled out of control. At that point, Tucker took back the reins as CEO and led major cost cutting, including closing of the Massachusetts sites, and creation of the news model that’s part of the regional network’s renewed expansion.
Daily Voice was founded in 2009 as Main Street Connect. It has 535,000 monthly UVs in its New York-Connecticut markets, which have a total population of 1.5 million.
Tom Grubisich (@TomGrubisich) writes “The New News” column for Street Fight. He is editorial director of the in-development hyperlocal news network Local America that rates communities on their performance across a broad spectrum of livability — Local America Charleston launched earlier this year.
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