About a year ago, I hadn’t come across a good list of someone trying to track all of the community news sites worth covering. So I did so myself.
I only recently come across someone doing a much better job of it, so I’ll leave it to her.
For the Reynolds Journalism Institute, Michele McLellan has dug in and created four main and seven overall categories for the always growing list of community sites.
It’s interesting to watch these numbers swell. Below, check out her categories and follow links to her lists.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 — usually supported by highly local advertising. [NEast Philly is included here]
- NICHE – These sites focus tightly on specific topics — restaurants and entertainment, health and medical news, environmental or political coverage, consumer and shopping information. Revenue may come from advertising, subscriptions or syndicating content. [Technically Philly is included here]
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.