Cold Type

No slug is safe in today’s newsroom

How hyper is your local?

with 4 comments

How hyper is your local? Love that. I can’t recall who said it, but some witty soul at PDX BarCamp III shared that in a lively discussion I cohosted with two coworkers (Web editor Jeff Bunch and Web developer Patti Hill, no relation) today at Cubespace. Our session: “You are publisher of a daily newspaper. How do you escape the carnage?”

Unfortunately, we didn’t walk away with any clear answers on how to avert disaster, something our newspaper is facing head on these days. We did, however, seem to agree that so-called hyperlocal journalism and advertising is likely to be the last idea standing after the shakeout that’s begun in the newspaper industry.

Still, big questions remain, including:

1) Can enough online revenue be generated from hyperlocal efforts to stem the outgoing tide of dollars from the print model? Doubtful, but I think there’s hope as I noted today with a conversation Jeff and I had with Michael Wood-Lewis, the founder of the Front Porch Forum (he told us advertisers approached him and were sold that his ad model worked far better than the print model).

2) If there isn’t enough online revenue to be had just yet and newsroom staffs continue to dwindle, can community bloggers provide enough content to supplement what’s created by so-called credentialed reporters?

3) How big of a revenue boost can a newspaper expect from engaging with its customers via social media efforts?

Many people in the audience seemed to agree that small newspapers and large national newspapers were performing the best in print, online or both and could weather the financial storms best. It’s the papers in between that seem to be losing money and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight just yet. Given that, there seemed to be consensus that, unless a new online revenue model suddenly appears, these papers are destined to dwindle in frequency and size until they become Sunday tabloids filled with the meatier investigative stories while they leave the breaking news to their Web sites.

Pretty sobering commentary for journalists and/or fans of good journalism.

I think one attendee, Jerry (@b3gl) perhaps summed it up best when he summised in a Tweet:”I’m far less interested in “how to save newspapers” than I am in “how to save good, regional journalism”. #bcp3″

NOTE: Thanks to everyone who indulged us with our attempt to have a conversation on this subject. We’re hopeful some answers can be found in the near future with other bar camps or events.


Written by coldtype

May 3, 2009 at 5:51 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. […] * * * I sat in on some great discussions of the future of news and the role journalists and bloggers can play in it at the 3rd annual BarCampPortland yesterday at CubeSpace, the shared work environment on S.E. Grand Ave. It was a lively discussion, which I plan to expound on this week. Until then, you can read what John Hill, a journalist who works at The Columbian in Vancouver, Wash., thought about it in his blog post, called How hyper is your local? […]

  2. That was the ever-clever @verso who asked “How hyper is your local?”

    Aaron Weiss

    May 5, 2009 at 5:02 am

    • Ah yes. Thanks, Aaron!


      May 5, 2009 at 5:14 am

  3. […] The techies wanted to know all kinds of things: Why are newspaper headlines misleading? Will micropayments – the vending machine model for paying for news stories – work? Should bloggers hold themselves to the same ethical constraints as reporters? Just what are those ethical constraints? Should bloggers be reporters? Should reporters be bloggers? Is hyperlocal news making money? And just how hyper is your local? […]

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