Two angles on “local” as a strategy
Also posted at the AIM Group blog.
Howard Owens posted a very thoughtful, and thought-provoking, blog item arguing that “local” as a media strategy will make even more sense in the future because of societal changes that are drawing people toward smaller geographic communities. He’s talking about the reasons behind Gatehouse’s new site The Batavian, (which was covered in this blog a couple of weeks ago) but he could be talking about any community:
The beauty of the web for local news is not only does it give us a new chance to refocus on true local news, but it makes it easier to enable the strong civic engagement that only comes when people talk with each other. Through comments and blogs and UGC video, we have a chance to pull people away from “American Idol” and into a real dialogue about the issues that matter most to their home towns.
Meanwhile, another site is taking that very tack, this time more of a grassroots approach. The West Seattle Blog covers that neighborhood like a small community newsletter, except it uses video, crisp writing, and instant coverage. This morning, for example, I’m reading coverage of a neighborhood association meeting, and it was posted about midnight last night — with video. According to coverage in TechNewsWorld.com, founder Tracy Record was an assistant news director for the local Fox affiliate, and left in December to focus fulltime on her neighborhood blog. She has since been joined by her son, and her husband, selling ads. “We say that we’re sustainable,” she said. “We decided on a leap of faith to live on this job last year. We had a 401k, we were living off savings for a while. We’re not drawing on that anymore.” Record is now able to pay freelancers, and she hopes to hire an additional staffer by the end of the year.
Two models approaching local as an opportunity: one from a media company looking for new growth, one from a citizen looking to meet a need in her neighborhood.
A lot of this stuff runs under the radar of typical industry coverage because it’s so small. And that’s too bad, because taken in the aggregate, it’s big. There’s a lot happening at the community level that adds up to significant experimentation — and possibly, oppportunity.
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