This article, “15 Ways to Generate Revenue for a Community News Site,” was written for hyperlocal online news sites — the competitors of most newspapers. But some of these ideas can easily be adapted for use by your own newspaper’s website. Here the first one: “Find a topic of interest to an audience and a particular advertiser. Have the advertiser put together a video to be aired on the site as a webinar. Readers sign up for it for free. The advertiser gets the names and emails of the attendees as possible sales leads in exchange for a sponsorship fee. A real estate agent might conduct a webinar on how to shop for a home, for example.” Let’s imagine, for instance, that you have a restaurant that’s known for making the best apple pie in town. Take your Flip camera down to the restaurant and let the owner show how to bake a great apple pie, step by step, on video. Then he/she can talk about the restaurant and the other pies they make there. At the end of the video (and you promote this at the very first to keep people tuned in), you offer a recipe if you click on a link — that helps to build the owner’s email list with the captured addresses. And who’s going to help the owner with the email campaign and tie it into your print and Internet editions? Your paper, of course!
This is one of those sites you could spend hours and hours with. And should. Michelle McLellan, a Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri, has compiled a list of new local news providers. And maybe more importantly, she has categorized them in a way that helps to see what kind of news sites are being produced. Some are hyperlocal sites in large cities, but many are in small towns or are citizen journalism efforts. Why should people at Texas community newspapers pay attention? Well, some experimental sites in the Lone Star State are mentioned (check out http://impactnews.com/contact-us/about-us, for example), and many of the sites are a treasure trove of ideas for developing your own website.
AOL has announced its entry into community journalism. An AOL subsidiary, Patch Media Corp, has launched Patch.org, a series of hyperlocal news sites. Patch will partner with community foundations and other organizations to launch community news Web sites. At least at this point, AOL says its target markets are communities and neighborhoods that lack adequate news media. Patch.org is a charitable foundation that will return profits to the community it serves. Patch will include both news content and advertising.
Community newspapers, while hurting from the economic downturn, have been largely immune to other changes in media that have hurt large, metro newspapers, according to an AP story. Also, metros might look to hyperlocal, the bread and butter of community newspapers, to shape the model of the large dailies of the future. Much of this story will be old news to community journalists, but there are some interesting statistics in this story about the performance of community newspapers as a part of the industry.
This story from American Journalism Review shows how some have a desire for news about the communities they live in that can’t be met by most metro news organizations. “Larger dailies, which are closing down and/or going to online versions, will not cover the news, community events and announcements of small towns,” the paper’s editor says. “We have to do it ourselves. It is the only way we’ll stay informed and connected. Whether it is in print or online, community journalism is still of value.”
If you follow the Center’s Website, you’ve read a lot about the growth of community journalism in places you wouldn’t have thought of as being homes of community media – like New York City and Chicago and LA. And you know by now that community journalism is no longer a place – it’s an attitude. Even a few years ago, community journalism was journalism as practiced in communities – typically smaller towns or rural areas. No more. Now community journalism is an attempt by larger newspapers and TV stations to reclaim their local – community – roots, and thereby to reclaim their audience. To see the extent of what’s happening, check out this Pew research report, a content analysis of 46 metro areas that found 145 online sites that they defined as community journalism.
Howard Owens writes that “hyperlocal” news, often-heralded as the savior of the news business, is really just community journalism — something big dailies have gotten away from lately
His description of good community journalism sounds a lot like what many small-town newspapers are doing, and have been doing for years. He writes:
“… there is something to be said for finding fervor and valor in cherishing your home town and the unique individuals that give it vitality.
“As journalists, we’ve gotten away from cherishing community — that isn’t objective enough — and it’s hurt not only democracy, but our business model.”
There has been a flood of articles on the whole “hyperlocal” phenomenon of community journalism on the Web. If you want to read one good – and fairly short – article on what this means, see this one