The news about local news hasn’t been good lately. But there have been three recent positive signals helping to balance the scales in the form of a digital newsgathering tool, a new survey about trust, and the survival of an important hyperlocal network in Brooklyn.
Eight and a half years after launching his hyperlocal news site The Batavian, in upstate New York, Howard Owens is looking at growing his base company, Album Corp., beyond Batavia to multiple locations. His plan for expansion is driven by a homemade mobile app that he’s experimenting with for the site.
Tony Haile, until recently the longtime CEO of the highly regarded online-analytics site Chartbeat, is planning to launch a new subscription site that doesn’t try to convert readers from free to paid. He calls it Scroll, and it has $3 million in seed money from formidable publishers including the New York Times, News Corp and Axel Springer.
The “Facebook Journalism Project” was launched recently to meet the “needs” of a news industry concerned about all the free editorial content being made available to the giant distribution platform. In this Q & A, Josh Mabry, manager of Facebook’s local news partnerships, details what FB is doing and plans to do for community news.
For years, there’s been a lot of earnest talk about digital news sites collaborating to produce editorial content that had more value for users — and to help the collaborators make their often-precarious operations sustainable. But the talk produced as many fits as starts. That’s changing, and for the better.
One of the earliest hyperlocal networks for parents is Macaroni Kid, which was founded by “recovering lawyer” Joyce Shulman and her husband, marketing entrepreneur Eric Cohen, in their community on Long Island in 2009. In this Q&A, Cohen talks about the company’s recent acquisition of also-well-established Stroller Traffic.
Trying to scale community news has many pitfalls. Sites that go for scale can end up publishing glorified “bulletin boards” as they seek to spread budget-limited journalistic resources across multiple communities. The end result can be bottom-fishing remnant CPMs that can be as low as $1. Carll Tucker, CEO of six-year-old Daily Voice, which recently expanded into North Jersey, says its scaling model has produced average CPMs that “hover a few pennies under $8.”
When they met at their recent Chicago convention, independent community publishers and editors talked a lot about what might be called “reve-news.” On everybody’s mind at the Local Independent Online Newspaper (LION) Publishers’ annual meeting was how to monetize news. Even weddings and obituaries can contribute to local news publishers’ bottom line.
TAPinto.net has taken its New Jersey-centered franchise model for community news to adjacent and competitive Westchester and Putnam Counties in New York State’s heavily suburban Lower Hudson Valley. In this Q&A, founder and CEO Mike Shapiro explains how he’s been able to scale his seven-year-old community network through franchising, and do it largely through self-financing.
Like other dailies, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has taken big hits in advertising and distribution revenue on the print side, but it’s still profitable. To find out how the Journal Sentinel uses quality journalism to stay in the black, Street Fight spoke with editor and senior vice president George Stanley.