Online community news publishers have a lot of learning and experience that they are eager to share with one another. But they’ve not been well connected.
This was evident in September at Block by Block: Community News Summit 2010, when many of these publishers met for the first time.
It also was evident that the front edge of online local news has moved. Just a few years ago, it was all about just getting a site up and running. Never mind revenue. Tech and content challenges, and a zeal for civic engagement (yay!), preoccupied many who entered the field.
A year ago, as a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute, I started compiling Michele’s List of promising news sites, thinking I might identify sites that were getting traction on multiple fronts, including revenue.
That’s when I recognized a fundamental shift had taken place. A critical mass of publishers had mastered those early challenges. They could help the start ups. And they needed help themselves with revenue and scaling their businesses.
So it’s time to crank it up a few notches by:
- Sharing more widely content, engagement, tech and other models and practices that are working.
- Creating targeted support and training for local news publishers.
- Building revenue models that will sustain news organizations that provide valuable content and engagement.
Today, I am very proud to introduce a significant step in that direction – one that has been created by online local publishers for their peers. It’s an experimental online network that will seek to stimulate ongoing content and idea sharing in areas where online publishers say they need the most help.
The network, described below, will initially be managed by the excellent Mona Romero, community manager of The Sacramento Press, thanks to co-founder Ben Ilfeld’s generous contribution of her time and expertise.
In the coming months, a permanent community manager will be hired with funding pledged by The Patterson Foundation, one of several organizations that have expressed interest in providing support for these publishers and the important contributions they make to local news and information. Stay tuned for other news on this front.
Meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing you on the network.
- Michele McLellan