The list is growing—This week we’ve added “new traditionals” sites that employ professional journalists and rely on relatively big budgets as wells as entrepreneurial “micro local”
Here’s the growing list of promising online news organizations I’m creating as part of my work as a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute. We want to learn from them and see if RJI can help them flourish. You can see my criteria for “promising” here. You can suggest additions to the list in comments below. Missouri grad student Adam Maksl and I will review your suggestions as quickly as possible.
1. NEW TRADITIONALS – These sites are dominated by original content produced by professional journalists. While the newsroom staff may be smaller than in a traditional newspaper newsroom, these sites tend to have more journalists on staff than community or micro local sites. Many are embracing digital connectivity with their users, but traditional journalism is their bread and butter. Most of these sites are powered with grant funding and are searching for a viable revenue model, perhaps one that mixes grants, donations, sponsorships, syndication and advertising. Among others, the Knight Foundation is putting significant money to start organizations of this type. New traditionals updated Feb. 2, 2010
- JUST ADDED: Newly established California Watch, led by veteran investigative journalist Mark Katches, aims to provide state coverage by the largest investigative reporting staff in the state. Topics: Money and politics, education, environment, health and welfare, public safety. Revenue: Grants, donations. About California Watch. Bonus points: Very nice looking site with useful maps, multimedia.
- JUST ADDED: Chicago News Cooperative was founded last fall with a staff of salaried professional journalists. Focus: Public policy and politics in the Chicago metro area. Revenue: Grants, sells content to New York Times. Bonus points: Founder/editor James O’Shea is not collecting a salary for the first year. About Chicago News Cooperative.
- JUST ADDED: The CTMirror is focused on the Connecticut statehouse. Topics: State politics, state budget, education, elections, health, human services. Revenue: Grants, including a recent matching Community Information Challenge grant from the Knight Foundation and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. (Disclosure: I advise CIC projects as a consultant to the Knight Foundation. And by the way, Knight is taking applications for the next round of grants.) Bonus points: The site will share coverage for free with other outlets. About CTMirror. Here’s a recent piece on CTMirror from Poynter’s Bill Mitchell.
- Gotham Gazette is a New York City site operated by the Citizens Union Foundation. Topics: City and state policy and politics. Revenue: Donations, advertising, foundation grants. Bonus points: Uses interactive games to engage users in solving civic problems. About Gotham Gazette.
- JUST ADDED: MinnPost: The mission of this nonprofit site, founded by CEO and Editor Joel Kramer, is ¿to provide high-quality journalism for news-intense people who care about Minnesota.¿ Topics: Revenue: Grants, advertising, sponsorship, donations. About MinnPost. Bonus points: Making inroads on a sustainable revenue model with emphasis on advertising and donations. (Here’s what Kramer says about the financial outlook.) About MinnPost.
- JUST ADDED: New England Center for Investigative Reporting was founded by Boston journalists Joe Bergantino and Maggie Mulvihill and is based at Boston University College of Communication and uses student journalists to develop investigative projects. Topics: Watchdog reporting on state regulators and oversight. Funding: University support, membership/dongations. Bonus Points: Posts documents underlying its reports. About New England Center for Investigative Reporting.
- New Haven Independent is a professionally-staffed local news site in Connecticut, edited by Paul Bass and sponsored by the not-for-profit Online Journalism Project. Topics: Neighborhoods, government, politics, criminal justice, schools, business. Revenue: Foundation grants, advertising, donations. About New Haven Independent. Bonus points: With grant funding, recently spun off a sister site, the Valley Independent Sentinel (About), also professionally staffed, which serves five towns in Connecticut’s Naugautuck Valley.
- St. Louis Beacon was founded by and is staffed by professional journalists, including editor Margaret Wolf Freivogel. Topics: Revenue: Grants, donations, memberships. Bonus points: Member of the Public Insight Network, which solicits citizen perspectives and experiences to inform journalism. About St. Louis Beacon.
- JUST ADDED: The Seattle PI last year joined the ranks of online only and it is still finding its footing in the news media lab that is Seattle. (More to come on Seattle’s boom in micro local sites.) Topics: Local news, business, sports. Revenue: Advertising. Bonus points: May teach the rest of us something about the potential for a coporate (Hearst), purely for-profit site general news serving a large metro area. About the PI.
- JUST ADDED: Texas Tribune is a lively nonprofit newcomer with a professional staff that covers all things politics in Texas. Topics: State government, politics, campaign finance, education, immigration, death penalty. Revenue: Grants, donations, sponsorships, memberships. (Here¿s Tribune Chairman John Thornton on the financial outlook.) Bonus points: Large data library. About Texas Tribune.
- The Tyee is a Vancouver, B.C. news site that uses professional journalists and seeks to publish stories that mainstream news sources ignore. The editor is David Beers. Topics: Government and public affairs, environment, justice system. Revenue: Advertising, donations. About The Tyee.
- Voice of San Diego, with a high-energy look and a carefully crafted mission, is a model for online city journalism done right. Topics: Politics, education, neighborhoods, public safety, housing, economy and quality of life. Revenue: Grants, donations, memberships, advertising. Bonus points: Investigative reporting. About Voice of San Diego.
- JUST ADDED: Wy.o.file provides public interest news about the state of Wyoming with a goal of supplementing what is offered by established media. Topics: Environment, energy, politics, culture. Revenue: Grants; another recent winner of a Knight CIC grant. Bonus points: Organization is hiring a development director – Job posting. About Wy.o.file.
2. COMMUNITY – These sites often rely on professional journalists but they tend to be bootstrappers who also focus on community building—actively seeking user feedback and content, writing in a conversational tone, and fostering civic engagement with practices such as voting, calls to action, and partnerships with local organizations and activists.
- Oakland Local is a community news site founded by Web entrepreneur Susan Mernit in Oakland, Calif. About. Topics: Environment, food, development, identity, arts & education. Revenue: Start up grant, advertising in the works. Bonus points: Savvy combination of community partnerships and strategic use of social media create community buzz. About Oakland Local.
- Open Media Boston reports local news with a small professional staff supplemented by citizen journalists. Topics: Local news, arts and living, tech, opinion. Revenue: Advertising, donations, foundation grants. Bonus points: Uses social media tools to solicit content submissions from readers. About Open Media Boston.
- Twin Cities Daily Planet is a rich community news site in Minneapolis-St. Paul founded by journalist Jeremy Iggers. Topics: Neighborhoods and communities, work & economy, politics & policy, arts & lifestyle, immigrants and immigration. Revenue: Donations, advertising, sponsorships, foundation grants. Bonus points: Aggregates dozens of community sites, including ethnic media, About Twin Cities Daily Planet.
To be added: Gables Home Page
3. MICRO LOCAL – Sometimes called “hyper local,” these sites provide highly granular news of a defined neighborhood or town. They may have a tiny staff—one or two people plus interns or citizen contributors—supported by highly local advertising. Micro local updated Feb. 2, 2010
- BaristaNet, run by veteran journalists Debbie Galant and Liz George, covers three towns in northern New Jersey. Topics: Locals news and events. Revenue: Local advertising, including classifieds. Bonus Points: The site has formed some partnerships with other local organizations, including creating an online local parenting guide (Barista Kids) with a local children¿s organization. About BaristaNet.
- The Batavian: Digital news pioneer Howard Owens started this New York news blog for Gatehouse Media, then took it with him when he left the company. Topics: Local news. Revenue: Advertising, sponsorships. Bonus points: Another demonstration that there is a revenue model in local advertising. About The Batavian.
- JUST ADDED: blogdowntown is a non-profit, community-funded news organization that covers downtown Los Angeles. It operates as part of Community Partners, a non-profit incubator that helps the site with accounting and legal support, so the site can “focus on delivering you news about Downtown.” Topics: Local news, business, politics, transportation, arts and entertainment. Revenue: Donations. Bonus points: They’ve created a Twitter list, published prominently on their front page, that includes Twitter feeds from 109 downtown businesses. About blogdowntown.
- JUST ADDED: Corona del Mar Today is dedicated to local news from the Corona del Mar neighborhood of Newport Beach, Calif. Published by journalist Amy Senk, the site aims to bring news to the neighborhood of more than 13,000 residents. Topics: Local news, youth sports. Revenue: Advertising. About Corona del Mar Today.
- JUST ADDED: Exit133 publishes local news about Tacoma, Wash. Topics: Government, politics, arts. Revenue: Advertising, sponsorships. About Exit133.
- JUST ADDED: InMaricopa.com, in addition to publishing a Web site, produces a monthly newspaper and quarterly magazine for the community of Maricopa, Ariz. Topics: Local news, business, education, sports, real estate, opinion. Revenue: Advertising. About InMaricopa.
- JUST ADDED: JDLand.com, operated by Jacqueline Dupree, covers D.C.’s Ballpark District/Navy Yard, Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. Topics: Neighborhood news, including housing, transportation, and business. Revenue: Advertising, primarily Google Adwords. Bonus points: Includes government data feeds, giving lists recent neighborhood crimes, space and building permits, service requests, and property sales. About JDLand. JDLand was the 2008 winner of the Knight-Batten Citizen Media Award.
- REVISED:Lakeland Local in Florida is run by Chuck Welch. Several volunteers journalists contribute content as do citizen contributors. Welch, who is semi-retired, says he has preferred to focus on journalism rather than selling ads. But that may change as the operation expands. Topics: Local news, crime, events. Revenue: None. Bonus points: Engagement with social media and mapping, including this foreclosure map. About Lakeland Local. (Previously listed as mini local blog. My mistake. MM
- The Loop is a micro local news site founded and operated by television journalist Polly Kriesman, a multiple Emmy winner. It serves Larchmont and five other communities near New York City. Topics: Local news and events. Revenue: Advertising. Bonus points: News with good-natured attitude. About The Loop.
- The Rapidian is neighborhood citizen news site in Grand Rapids, Mich., operated by the Grand Rapids Community Media Center. Topics: Neighborhood news. Revenue: Foundation grants, including Knight Foundation. Bonus points: Active use of social media, mapping local events and news. About The Rapidian.
- JUST ADDED: RedBankGreen, produced by Trish Russoniello and John T. Ward, covers news about Red Bank, N.J., and surrounding communities. Topics: Local news, including government, transportation and business. Revenue: Advertising. Bonus points: They take an innovative approach to comment moderation. In an effort to discourage “thuggish and/or cowardly” comments, the site operators move such comments to the “Back Alley,” a section of their comments area that can be hidden by readers. They say this policy encourages open and transparent dialogue (more about the commenting policy). About RedBankGreen.
- West Seattle Blog is operated by Tracy Record and Patrick Sand. Topics: Local news, crime, traffic, events. Revenue: Advertising. Bonus points: Demonstrating that highly local advertising can anchor a modest business model. About West Seattle Blog.
To be added: Seattle’s Capitol Hill and My Ballard blogs.
4. LOCAL NEWS SYSTEMS - These are highly local, low cost sites created with a regional or national template, often by a corporation. In taking the temperature of the news ecosystem, it is important to note that corporations are interested in micro local news and the local advertising they may draw. What do they know that established news organizations don’t? Local news systems updated Feb. 2, 2010
- JUST ADDED: Gothamist LLC runs community news sites in 11 of some of the world’s largest cities (such as New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and London, among others). Topics: Local news, arts, food. Revenue: Advertising.
To be added: Patch, YourHub, Metblogs
To be added: Health News Florida, Investigate West, Bargain Babe.
6. NICHE LOCAL – These sites focus on a limited number of specific topics—restaurants and entertainment or health and medical news, or they aim to engage very specific communities such as young people or seniors.
- Seattle/Local Health Guide was founded by MD/journalist Michael McCarthy. Topics: Health news from the Seattle and the Puget Sound region and information about services available in the area. Revenue: Advertising in the works. Bonus points: A flu vaccine locator widget. About.
- Duke City Fix is an Albuquerque, New Mexico community Web site that is managed by volunteers. Topics: Neighborhoods, restaurants and music. Revenue: Ads by Google. Bonus points: Active commenting community. About Duke City Fix.
- FreshDaily.ca, a media company that focuses on hyperlocal arts and entertainment reporting, operates sites in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Revenue: Advertising.
- Irish Philadelphia focuses on local news and culture for Philly’s Irish-American community. It is run by two Philly journalists, Jeff Meade and Denise Foley, who themselves have Irish roots. Topics: Music, dance, art, food, genealogy, sports, travel. Revenue: Advertising. About Irish Philadelphia.
To be added:
7. MINI SITES – These sites typically are run by one or two people. They tend to be idiosyncratic in the selection of stories they cover and not highly aggressive in finding revenue. While we recognize their value in the news ecosystem, we do not plan to study them in depth. But we will list examples we come across.
- Coconut Grove Grapevine. is a low-key local blog site for Coconut Grove, Florida by Editor/Publisher Tom Falco. Topics: Civic events, weather, business specials. Revenue: Advertising.
- Boise Guardian is a local watchdog blog in Boise, Idaho, that mixes news and opinion; the editor is David R. Frazier. Topics: Local politics and policy. Revenue: Donations. About Boise Guardian.
- Northfield Citizens Online is a citizen-run local news site in Minnesota. Topics: Civic issues, local events, weather. Revenue: Seeking sponsorships. About Northfield Citizens Online.
- SkokieNet in Illinois is operated by the Skokie public library and invites users to contribute stories, photos and calendar listings. Topics: A wide range of local news and events. Revenue: Not clear beyond public library support.
8. AGGREGATORS – These sites curate links and headlines from other sources. While curation provides a valuable service, our study is focused on sites that originate news.
By Michele McLellan, 02/04/10 at 3:06 am