JReporter Promises Local News Orgs Cheap Content, Revenues

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A new software tool developed by JJCS gives news organizations a direct means to facilitate community engagement and contribution in a time when many are struggling to find a way to efficiently and inexpensively cover hyperlocal.

JReporter, an application that works with the Android and iOS interfaces, allows a licensing media company to solicit content, whether it is text, video, audio or stills, from local citizens via geo-targeted messages. The user can then submit content to the news organization through the app, which integrates with the media company’s CMS.

The app offers local news organizations inexpensive content that they can subsequently turn around and monetize through digital ads. The app will ideally allow media outlets to cover more hyperlocal events, ranging from school board meetings to high school football games, that may otherwise not be cost-efficient.

“Media companies need content cheaply — they need lots of it — [and] they need it to be timely, [and] they need that content to turn over quickly to keep the user returning over and over again,” said John Juliano, owner of JJCS.

JJCS is hoping to license JReporter to major media companies in a time when many, such as AOL, The New York Times and Chicago Tribune, have struggled in their efforts to efficiently cover hyperlocal. The Tribune invested in Journatic, which relies on algorithms and human editorial, in April to operate its TribLocal network — but the Trib has since suspended its services after the discovery of false bylines on its real estate site BlockShopper. Tribune Co. intends to continue its editorial relationship with Journatic, but a group of staffers wrote a letter to management on Thursday protesting the policy.

From a journalism standpoint, the application makes sense as a way to foster community engagement and promote the local media’s role as the “place where the community comes to learn about itself” — a phrase JJCS has trademarked. At the very least, this content can be used to develop a searchable archive. But whether the app can develop a strong enough user base to drive ad revenue, both via resulting Web content and directly on the mobile app, through proximity-based messages from local merchants, will ultimately determine its success.

To reward user participation, the JJCS team has developed a coupon wallet system that can either be sponsored by advertisers or the media company. The goal is to license JReporter to several media companies, Juliano says, meaning the JReporter product name will never appear in the consumer market.

“In the case of JReporter,” Juliano said, “[we’re using] the technology to engage, to sell advertising [and] to get content.”

Patrick Duprey is an intern at Street Fight.