Tag Archives: Hyperlocal

Pay wall day – Johnston Press begins charging for content

Today is a big day. Not only is it some huge online shopping day, but regional newspaper firm Johnston Press has switched on its online pay wall and is now charging readers to access content on some of its websites.

In all six weekly newspapers are in the Johnston Press pilot news of which broke last week, but not its bigger and better known dailies like The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post.

The papers involved in the pilot are the Whitby Gazette, Northumberland Gazette, Worksop Guardian, Ripley and Heanor News and two Scottish titles: The Southern Reporter and Carrick Gazette. Oddly only the first two in that list have the story that they pay wall goes up today on their home page.

Here’s what The Northumberland Gazette is saying on its website:

“The Northumberland Gazette has been chosen to pioneer a new way of accessing its premium content online. Its parent group Johnston Press has selected three of its weekly titles to offer its news, sport and other ‘live’ content only to subscribers.

“From today (November 30), readers of the Gazette website will only be able to view the first few words of a story before they will be asked to pay £5 quarterly for all premium content on the site. They will then receive access to the whole site for three months, which still works out at less than the cost of the paper.”

Clearly, the particular payment model is going to vary from title to title; from weekly to daily, to regional and to national, but for this market £5 a quarter (5.5p a day) seems like a good price point. To me at least and it is going to be interesting to see what readers of these local titles think of it. And more importantly whether they will in sufficient numbers pay the modest sum being asked to access the website of their local newspaper.

There aren’t any comments on the stories announcing the move to a pay wall and none elsewhere that I could find so there is no real way of knowing what readers think. Clearly, Johnston Press will have done local market research and had enough positive feedback to convince it that these markets would (in some form) support its move.

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Hard to figure out hyperlocal business model says New York Times

The New York Times has given an update on its hyperlocal experiment and says that while the content is flowing it has “been harder to figure out the business model”.

In one of its regular Talk to The Times slots Jim Schachter, editor for digital initiatives, spoke about hyperlocals and the New York Times pilot, called The Local, in response to a question from Lynn Smith, a former Los Angeles Times journalist.

Schachter said that The Local (the NY Times has two: one in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, the other in the New Jersey towns of South Orange, Maplewood and Millburn) had been what a pilot is supposed to be: “a learning experience for us on every front”.

Each of the NY Times hyperlocal projects is led by a full-time Metro reporter who has a dual role of covering stories and finding ways to help those communities to cover themselves.

On that front Schachter that both Locals had been a successes with local contributors coming forward and producing more than half of the posts on each site. This has turned out to be the easy bit.

He said citizen journalists were doing things as varied as covering meetings, analysing data, creating Google maps, making videos and writing a variety of columns and blogs.

“People in the news business talk all the time about “increasing reader engagement” as a key to our future success. I can’t think of any better measure of engagement than the frequency with which readers actually undertake to report the news and create high-quality content to share with one another,” Schachter said.

But on the other front, of turning these pilots into viable businesses, the NY Times is having less success.

“Not surprisingly, it has been harder to figure out the business model for all of this. An explosion of interest among local merchants in advertising on hyperlocal sites has been just around the corner for a number of years now.”

But despite that Schachter said that the hyperlocal advertising market is a hard one for an “established organisation like The Times to enter; for now, the potential revenues don’t match up very well with the cost of acquiring customers, even using a low-cost system like self-service advertising”.

He said the Times was looking at other ideas for generating revenue streams from its hyperlocal efforts and that it has the support of the New York Times Company to explore this further.

The lack of revenues is not stopping more and more players entering the market. With expansion in places like Seattle where Fisher Communications has launched 44 hyperlocal sites in the Seattle area and 38 in Oregon making it the largest in the US.

Hyperlocal website WikiCity was recently snapped up by Nebraskan newspaper group The Omaha World-Herald.

MSNBC has Everyblock.com which sits alongside other established players big and small such as Patch.com and Baristanet.

In the coming months more and more players will enter this market in the US not to mention the UK where the interest (from the likes of Guardian News & Media, Associated Newspapers and Trinity Mirror) and challenges in making hyperlocal work are similar.

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Citizen sales people needed for hyperlocal success

Jeff Jarvis in the Guardian this morning writing about hyperlocal with some positive numbers and he also talks about “citizen salespeople”. You don’t hear so much about them as you do citizen journalists, but without them you are not going to have much of a commercial venture.

In much of the talk and coverage of hyperlocal the focus is usually on the content created by local people, hyperlocal networks and former journalists most of whom don’t have any commercial experience.

Jarvis is writing about research that the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism’s New Business Models for News Project has done that shows some existing hyperlocal bloggers, serving markets of about 50,000 people, are bringing in up to $200,000 a year in advertising and these are sustainable businesses.

This chimes with the recent projections published by Borrell Associates that say the hyperlocal market could be worth $15bn by 2013.

Jarvis says that after three years a blogger could hire editorial staff and advertising help, the citizen salespeople, and generate $148,000 out of $332,000 revenue, which he is arguing is a conservative estimate based on the fact that a community paper in a town probably earns between $2m-$5m.

But for that to happen you are going to need as many citizen sales people or sales people in general teaming up with those creating the content to lead to the future for news that Jarvis is writing about. There must be as many if not more of these people out there as there are journalists or would be journalists.

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Hyperlocal gets another boost in Seattle

Seattle is turning into the busiest hyperlocal market out there with yet another addition as The Seattle Times partners up with a number of local blogs and community sites.

According to the blog Techflash, The Seattle Times (the city’s sole surviving newspaper) is teaming up with West Seattle Blog, Next Door Media (publisher of MyBallard.com, PhinneyWood and other sites); The Rainier Valley Post and Capitol Hill Seattle.

In a post on its site MyBallard said: “My Ballard is powered by the neighbourhood, not us. The vast majority of stories originate from our readers, and now some of the best stories will be linked from Seattle’s largest news site. We’re very pleased that the Times has chosen to work together with organic, neighbourhood-grown news sites instead of creating competing efforts designed to draw advertising dollars away from the neighbourhood.”

The launch by The Seattle Times follows Fisher Communications announcing last week it was launching 43 community sites in Seattle based around its TV and radio stations.

Again its interesting to note that this is another traditional media player going for the hyperlocal market and the different models that are emerging. The Seattle Times has chosen to partner with homegrown community players while others have chosen different routes.

Media firms like The New York Times Company, Fisher and The Washington Post, which pulled the plug on its hyperlocal experiment LoudounExtra.com, went with their own ventures. Others like AOL and MSNBC have bought start-ups (Patch and Everyblock.com respectively).

Seattle has it all going on with a newspaper, a former newspaper (Seattlepi.com), a broadcaster and all the local community players fighting it out. It must make for such a vibrant market in that fantastic American city.

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Floodgates open on Hyperlocal as Seattle firm launches 43 sites

This must be hyperlocal week. Suddenly there is an avalanche of activity with the latest being that US media firm Fisher Communications is launching 43 sites in Seattle.

The regional media player is making a land grab that is likely to be repeated across the states if this week is anything to go by.

We started the week with MSNBC buying Everyblock.com and since then there has been a steady flow of news, mostly positive, save the Washington Post, which pulled the plug on its hyperlocal experiment LoudounExtra.com.

No one is yet sure if anyone is going to make any/much money, but increasingly it looks like media firms of any description must be in this market.

Other little news snippets on the hyperlocal market this week are the American University’s J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism choosing five news organisations to develop hyperlocal projects. It is to work with The Seattle Times, The Miami Herald, The Charlotte Observer, Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times and TucsonCitizen.com (newspaper that has become a web-only).

Also AOL-owned Patch is launching new sites in Summit, New Jersey and Darien, Connecticut, bringing the total number of hyperlocal sites in its network to eight.

Not to be left out of it back the UK, UK local reviews website TrustedPlaces has joined DMGT’s 50 strong hyperlocal project that beta-launches this week.

The growing amount of activity is really encouraging for those who have been in the market for a while and it does look like competition will get fierce.

The Seattle market alone already has one newspaper (The Seattle Times), one former newspaper (Seattlepi.com), and 43 new sites.

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Hyperlocal; a goldmine or fool’s gold?

Fast Company takes a look at the hyperlocal market that everyone is watching, which some say is a multi-billion dollar future of online, but might not amount to anything much more than a sizeable pile of nickels.

The projections say, according to Borrell Associates, that the hyperlocal market could (one day) be worth $15bn by 2013. Whether they happen or not, the big numbers are enough to attract the likes of The New York Times Company (the Local) and AOL (Patch) in the US and the likes of Newsquest, Trinity Mirror and Associated Newspapers in the UK.

But whether that cash will materialise is another question, considering how the growth rate for online advertising is not the steam train it once was.

The thing with Hyperlocal as Fast Company points out is that it is lauded by many, but success always “remains perpetually around the corner”. The reason for this according to Mark Josephson, CEO of the hyperlocal aggregator Outside.in is that local advertisers are not online in force, but he insists they will be.

The piece also quotes Debbie Galant who runs Baristanet, one of the models for hyperlocal (championed by Jeff Jarvis), as saying only that they are making “real money” and that “ad revenue is six figures”, but she won’t go into more detail than that – probably because after costs there is not a lot left.

This growth in hyperlocal revenues is dependent upon a number of things. One is local advertisers ditching the Yellow Pages and local newspapers on mass, those mom and pop advertisers, which are not exactly overflowing with local classified advertising (anyone remember craigslist?).

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New York Times opens up to Mom and Pop advertisers

 

The New York Times has opened up a self-serve ad platform
for a series of citizen journalism websites which fall under its hyper-local
‘The Local’ domain, covering east coast boroughs from New York to New Jersey.

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Harsh lessons: blogs belong on the internet

Who would have guessed? The idea of printing a newspaper full of blogs, you know, on like actual paper is not a winner.

Well, back in January, while the some of us were still trying to work off the turkey and the gazillion ridiculous non-Christmas like snacks that you eat at Christmas, there was a story about a company that had this genius idea (maybe after hitting barrels of sherry or barrels of other non-Christmas like drinks you drink at Christmas) of putting out newspapers with, um, blogs in them.

Okay, granted hindsight is a wonderful thing, but for this you don’t need hindshight. The New York Times put it like this: “Amid the din of naysayers who insist that newspapers are on the verge of death, a new company wants to start dozens of new ones — with a twist.”

Don’t you just hate naysayers? What with all there crazy naysaying it’s really hard to hear sometimes. Well, sometimes you should listen to the naysayers, they’re not shouting for “the love of god don’t do that” for nothing. They do it for a reason.

Anyway, so a Chicago start-up called ‘The Printed Blog’ unveiled a plan (nice tag line “Like the internet, only inflammable”) to launch dozens of newspapers that contained reprinted blog posts. The idea was that these papers were to be supported by local ads and would be distributed free in big cities.

Local ads? Well, okay, sure, if you can find “local advertisers” (wait aren’t those called classifieds…).

The Printed Blog first launched two weeklies in Chicago and San Francisco laid out like a blog (yeah from the interwebulator that some people shorten to the “web”) instead of columns.

The hope was eventually to publish free neighbourhood editions twice a day in many US cities.

At launch Joshua Karp, the founder and publisher of The Printed Blog, told The New York Times: “There were so many techniques that I’ve seen working online that maybe I could apply to the print industry.”

Maybe you see the problem with that sentence, but I’m feeling too dumb to go into it, but I want to ask the question: Why? Why Josh?

The idea was that bloggers would give the Printed Blog permission to reprint their blog posts in return for a share of the ad revenue. That sounds like so many other great ideas that I heard about out in the digital frontier. Do you remember syndication? That was going to be quite awesome. Other people were going to pay you money for your content. They would republish it elsewhere on the interwebulator, but the returns proved just enough to send a number of companies out of business.

I digress, the Printed Blog was talking about cities like Chicago having 50 separate editions tailored to individual neighbourhoods. The amount of advertising needed to support an endeavour would probably need half of the ads of Craigslist. And apparently Craig just will not give those ads back. Bad Craig.

So, here we are six months later and the whole thing is over. The Printed Blog also dubbed hyper local free papers has ceased publication due to a lack of outside investment capital, according to Josh who blogged it. No, not in print dummy, online; on an actual blog, which is like all ironical or something.

“Friends, It is with great sadness that I must report that, due to a lack of outside investment capital, The Printed Blog is ceasing publication. Despite a significant personal investment on my part, and the additional support of six or seven credit cards, we were unable to raise the minimum amount of money required to reach the next stage of our development.

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Stories from the downturn: ex-newspaper journalists struggle to make a life online

If I had any money here is what I wouldn’t do: put it into a news website, and neither will many people in the US, where former newspaper journalists are struggling to find subscribers for their post print online ventures.

My feeling is that you might as well flush it down the toilet with a smile, which is what is happening in the US as redundant journalists on former daily newspapers pour their hopes, time and some cash into start-up news ventures. These are stories from the downturn and they will not all end well.

The Rocky Mountain News shut in February and former journalists there are already on their second effort to launch an online site to fill the gap left by the paper’s demise and find a life beyond the print graveyard. The paper was one of the first to go, owner EW Scripps decided to cut its loses and close for good. No half way house. No online only product. Simply the end. Done. Kaput.

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Life in the clickstream: the future of journalism

Everyone who works online and has anything to do with publishing should be reading this. A report out today that attempts to map the carnage in publishing and take a guess at the future. Full of good nuggets.

With nods to both the Guardian’s Emily Bell (“We are on the brink of two years of carnage for western media”) and Roy Greenslade (“Popular newspapers, the mass newspapers, are dying and will die”) the starting point and the narrative of the Future of Journalism report produced by the Media Alliance in Australia is the declining fortunes of print and the challenges that disruptive technologies bring in the Australian, UK and US markets.

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