Community News Startups: Presentation notes from BarCamp for NewsInnovation

Sean Blanda, Brian James Kirk and me on Saturday, April 25, 2009 in the atrium of Annenberg Hall at Temple University after discussing at the BarCamp for NewsInnovation at TechnicallyPhilly.com, which we co-founded.

Two Saturdays ago, friends Sean Blanda, Brian James Kirk and I presented at the BarCamp NewsInnovation — which Blanda organized and Brian and I helped run — on TechnicallyPhilly.com, which we co-founded in February.

Read my thoughts on the event here. Read Twitter coverage of our presentation by looking through #BCNI304, which relates to the room in which we presented.

Below see the notes from and video of the presentation we gave.

I presented twice at BarCamp, first on TP, then later for NEastPhilly.com, which I’ll share on later this week. Harrisburg-based Roxbury News taped portions of a series of the presentations, including ours: part one, part two, part three and, Hell, part four. Or peep a bit grainier, rougher and shorter clip of me speaking on TP’s use of social media to develop our brand.

Community News Startups: Technically Philly
National BarCamp NewsInnovation Philadelphia
April 25, 2009

  1. INTRODUCTION
    • Technically Philly: a blog covering the community of people who use technology in Philadelphia
    • February 2009, WordPress based template
    • three young, media and tech-interested freelancers reporters who also are a Web designer, graphic designer and business managing
    • Two niches: industry (tech) and geography (Philadelphia)
    • Today we’ll discuss: How we started, how we’re building, and how we plan to pay for it all
  2. HOW TO START
    • Freelancing with time
      • Expect to see more freelancers as news orgs shed staff
      • Subsidizing through freelance
      • Normal workday and then TP
      • pick up beat freelancing
      • Get off ass off and do it
    • Use free technology
      • Use social media, but really use it: interact on Twitter, brand on Facebook.
      • Don’t just show up for the game, but actually play it.
      • Develop brand – the best thing newspapers have are their brand, if you don’t, develop it online by being consistently right, interesting and involved.
      • New media is interaction (not fancy buzz words)
    • Know your place
      • We aren’t providing breaking corporate news, but we’re adding value
      • Right now there are largely Content Creators (news orgs) and content aggregators (blogs, Google, Digg, etc.)
      • We’re trying to marry the two: creating content, but synthesizing it in a way particular to our audience.
      • Aggregation in our voice to our readers
    • Be honest in who you are
      • Disclosures, honest and genuine.
      • If you really want to be part of a community, it will support you.
  3. HOW WE’RE BUILDING A BRAND, AUDIENCE AND COVERAGE
    • If you’re small, cover small.
      • How quickly you can affect that small community
      • Gives you agility, lessons from the dotcom burst, smaller is often better, and now that is coming to news
      • Dinosaur larger media, not seen as authentic in covering a community
    • Social media attack
      • 15 percent hits from Twitter, nearly a third from social media, LinkedIn, Facebook, many more from other blogs
      • Interacting with audience, that is the good of social media
    • Introducing an audience
      • We still say we’re just introducing everyone and haven’t even begun to really report
      • We’re helping to create, cobbling together Philadelphia’s broad innovation and tech communities
      • Often seen as far smaller than you might expect of one of the largest cities in the country, but we’re uncovering new fields
    • Niche, niche, niche
      • neighborhood-centric to be seen as authentic
      • Why shouldn’t we? Our audience is male, affluent, educated readers not being covered as enthusastically or consistently by mainstream media.
      • Find an audience and cover the Hell out of it
    • Involved community
      • Don’t be afriad to be part of your community; be impartial, but the heart of a journalist is someone a part of a community, you know it better, you affect it better
      • If one part of newspapers is still respected and done well, it’s the sports beat. They are often people who admit they love the home team.
      • We are covering the Philadelphia tech community and we love the home team.
    • Branding
      • Want to be seen as the only resource for Philadelphia tech news
      • Want to be respected, as journalists and as a source
      • That’s local, but Comcast, RedLasso and others are national in scope, so that can build brand in wider communities (even the smallest of communities have reasons to be appreciated elsewhere, or at least they should be)
      • Being consistent
  4. MONETIZATION
    • Free model – a big conversation we don’t want to get into, but points to make
      • You’re giving away the connection to the community, who will then support you in return
      • A new model in the future could be the community network: all the news and all the purchases from that community
      • Become a store of everything related to your market, become a hub and sell around the hub
      • Phillies blog: selling tickets, merchandise, creating merchandise, write an e-book
      • Support a community and it will support your trusted, respected brand
    • Rethink traditional monetizations
      • How to wrangle “Classifieds” back – general interest newspapers lost, but specified niche organizations don’t have to
      • Advertisements can no longer exclusively sustain a model, but far more specific, interactive campaigns will come closer
      • Collecting data on users to better know them (also helps to be involved in community)
    • Find new models particular to your product
      • Whenever we try a new product, we ask ourselves what beyond advertising can we sell because it can’t be it
    • Local works best when it’s authentically local
      • TechFlash, a product purhcased by Puget Sound Business Journal but remains on separate site with separate sales
      • Don’t brand them as single entity or risk losing the appeal
      • Philadelphia flea market versus Fairmount flea market,
    • Being cognizant of news as business
      • We write, report, edit, design, plan, sell, buy, create and disseminate: reporters need to know this now
      • The reporters know what would sell to the people they cover, but those reporters aren’t making business decisions
  5. TAKE AWAYS
    • Be a member of the community, but be impartial
    • Brand is everything, hub to sell around hub
    • Don’t be afraid to go small, independently branded and sold
      • The collection of niches: Washington Post as national, the NY Times as international, the Inquirer as regional
    • Buzz words are more than buzz
      • social media is friendly; new media is interaction; old media is a lecture
    • Smaller isn’t worse
      • Scale of what we cover might not change, the scale of how we cover maybe so

The Courier Post summarized our presentation, the notes of which can be seen here. Roxbury News kindly caught video of most our session: