Category Archives: Business models

News Rewired : Business Models in Community News

Here is a round table discussion from the recent News Rewired Conference discussing the thorny issue of successful business models for Community Journalism.


J-lab releases study into hyper-local news success

Jan Schaffer over at J-lab has some really important insights into the real challenges of setting up and running hyper local news operations. 

They have just released, “New Voices: What Works.” an indepth study of 46 news start-ups they have funded.  Jan says that the report focuses on 10 key takeaways. They include:

  • Engagement, not just content, is key: Robust and frequent content begets more content, but it’s the engagement with users that make sites successful.
  • Sweat equity counts for a lot: Projects built on the grit and passion of the founders have created the most promising models for sustainability.
  • Community news sites are not a business yet. Income from grants, ads, events and other things falls short, in most cases, of paying staff salaries and operating expenses.
  • Demand for start-up funding is high. We had 1,433 applicants for the 55 projects that were funded.

It sounds fascinating stuff and would encourage everyone to have a look and feed back to them.  I am sure they would appreciate it.

Regional papers bounce back through hyperlocal news

There is a very interesting article in todays Independent by Ian Burrel that outlines the recovery in the regional press in Britain over recent months.

Avertising revenues are up and new titles are being published.  It is claimed that this is in no part due to a strong emphasis on local and hyperlocal news and surprise, surprise growing digital revenues!!

All I can say is well done to everyone involved, lets hope there is more to come.

Spanish-language newspapers in NY and LA to train bloggers to report and sell ads

Now this is interesting and really gets to the heart of the challenge of replicating the existing cultural and business models of newspapers and their on-line future.  “ImpreMedia, the nation’s No.1 Spanish-language online and print news publisher, announced today its plans to introduce hyperlocal coverage, initially in New York and Los Angeles, via community blogging partnerships”.  This includes an impressive four week training course for bloggers in hyperlocal journalism and media sales, “El Diario La Prensa in New York and La Opinion in Los Angeles. Mr. Paton said the company will also give the bloggers training in sales and create mutually beneficial sales arrangements.”   Some may disagree with this from a professional point of view, but I can see the logic and potential.

Hyperlocal is not everything local (still)

Cory Bergman at Lostremote raises the perennial question as to “why is it that so many journalists keep confusing “hyperlocal” with local?” A theme that has been raised on hyperlcoalworld before.

Equally he notes the odd position of big media companies who seem to have a very vague grasp of physical geography and that “It seems that any site that’s not run by a major media company that covers local news is suddenly hyperlocal — MinnPost covers a state, Voice of San Diego covers a city and Loudoun Extra covered a county are frequently mislabeled.”

He also makes the perfectly sensible point that, “Neighborhood news sites are hyperlocal because they offer a new layer of granular coverage that isn’t available on local news sites:” or for that matter resourceable or manageable in a conventional media structure.  But are good news to nervous shareholders.

Hyperlocal news – its Pan-local really!

For anyone interested in understanding how a hyperlocal news site works should check out the interview by Matthew Sollars of CUNY of Mike Orren from Pegasus News the local news serice for Dallas-Fort Worth area.

What is interesting here is Mike’s concept of ‘pan-local’ coverge, which I think is a very sensible perspective. In essence its the idea that while it is vital to have a hyper-local core to your service you also need a wider context of news to complement this and demonstrate how these relate to each other. Mike also talks about the logistic difficulties of doing such a thing. 

Perhaps it illustrates another example where new kinds of partnerships and alliances may need to be developed if hyperlocal is really going to work.

Hyperlocal, the $100 Billion bottom of the journalistic food chain.

Michael Gluckstadt at Fasttrack has published an illuminating article about the growth in interest in hyperlocal news by corporate players. 

He makes some good points about the potential returns (possibly in the region of $100 Billion) and the existing pitfalls.  What is really interesting is that both examples discussed (Patch and Local, which are run by smart people) are aiming at areas where there is, they think a better chance of a serious commercial return.  Which is quite obvious really. 

So what we are likely to see in the short term is very vigorous competition by big rich corporates over a few attractive locations and then a mass of unattractive areas with little obvious economic promise being served by local volunteers and small town entrepreneurs.  This will probably look like a typical Power Law graph with a handfull of majors at the top and then an ever so steep slide down to the mass of the population (rather like the long tail).

It will be interesting to see how much money will be invested trying to control the top of the graph and finding out at the end of the day where the elusive business model is?  My guess is where the costs are lowest.

National local, local-local and hyper-local – they are all local to someone!

I would like to recommend the lively and passionate discussion going on over at the Jackson Free Press about (amongst other things) the meaning of the word local. 

Editor-in-chief Donna Lad has taken issue with Shoplocal over the behaviour of large corporations and big brands and what she sees as unreasonable competition in small towns.  They have responded, outlining their conceptual model of local including; national local, local-local and hyper-local.

This is in itself fascinating enough. But I think the underlying tension between local community economic interests and national corporate interests is what is really interesting here.   An area of friction that I think hyperlocal news will return to again and again.

ps I am working on a nano-local message on a post-it note for my wife.

Hyperlocal video: The Future of Local Video

Here’s an interesting series of videos from Wellcomemat on the future of local video. 

welcomematIt consists of a panel discussion involving; Richard Blakeley – Video Editor | Gawker Media, Kelly Roark – VP Interactive Sales & Development | HGTV/Frontdoor, Teddy Stoecklein – Creative Director & Video Producer, BBDO, Doug Heddings – NY Real Estate Broker,, Andrew Kaplan – Business Development Manager,

Hyperlocal; What works and what doesn’t – the big opportunity

Jusintc of Neighborlogs has put togther a list of  ’20 does and don’t of hyperlocal publishing’ for the Digital Journalism Camp Portland.

Its all fairly self explanatory sound advice.  My only comment (and I would like Justin’s view on this) is about taking a really radical step in advertising that involves asking local advertisers what they want, rather than just selling them spare (print) itinerary!! 

I have felt for a long time that one of the really big hurdles for big print media is getting ad sales staff to think digital.  To look at what all their platforms can do for a client and put together targeted interactive campaigns and activities that deliver what they ‘need’. 

This looks simple when you write it down, but it is actually a massive cultural change.  If you think getting journalists to think digital has been a challenge, wait till you have to deal with the commercial staff…  but I think this is where the big opportunity lies.