That niche vertical or hyperlocal news site that covers your community can be just as valuable as the big newspaper or local TV spot, I told an audience of nearly 20 as a panelist during an Entrepreneurship Week session hosted by the Empowerment Group last month.
The Kensington-based nonprofit who mission is “building a better Philadelphia by spurring economic growth,” hosted the week-long session of events — panels and lectures, workshops and happy hours — for small business owners and those interested in venturing down that path.
For the session on April 7, I joined a panel called ‘Build Your Own Buzz’ that was additionally manned by Alex Mulcahy, the founder of the popular, sustainability-focused GRID Magazine, Jim Sofran, an executive with Chicago-based Groupon and Deni Kasrel, a local marketing agent.
They weren’t from around here, were they, shouted my neighbor across the street over the weekend.
She was talking about a pack of young journalists — from Florida and Washington state and California — who had invaded my Fishtown rowhome the weekend before.
That was perhaps one of the largest take aways I drew from attending and, by way of Technically Philly, co-sponsoring BarCamp NewsInnovation 2.0 April 24 — the staggering drawing power of the event in just its second year.
The report, which was released Wednesday, comes from the J-Lab journalism institute at American University and its Executive Director, Pulitzer Prize winner and former Philadelphia Inquirer business editor Jan Schaffer.
The final report, which can be read in its entirety here, tacitly outlines the steps to develop roughly two things: (1) a central website of public affairs coverage and (2) a journalism collaboration by way of staff, funding and shared administrative and business services — which I like to think was at least partially influenced by our pushing on with News Inkubator.
Updated: The William Penn Foundation will not “necessarily” implement what was found in the report, communications director Brent Thompson told me.
More broadly, as Schaffer wrote in an e-mail to those she interviewed in her months-long research: “After a deep analysis of the media landscape, J-Lab has recommended that Philadelphia is ripe for a unique Networked Journalism collaborative, partnering new media makers with original reporting on public affairs.”
It’s a quick and more detailed move less than half a year a large stakeholders meeting that was less than decisive.
Updated 4/13/10 @ 8:50 a.m.: Regionally-specific hyperlocal is just part of the broader system
WHYY, the public media station for the Delaware Valley region, is hoping a $1.2 million hyperlocal news initiative for the northwest region of Philadelphia will be the first successful bold Web-first journalism effort from a legacy media player.
Updated: That northwest hyperlocal is just one very large, very expensive trial vertical within a larger rollout.
But will “NewsWorks” go the way of a handful of its predecessors?
I’ve squabbled with people over domains and publication names, of projects and story titles.
There was a moment of inaction in creating the technology news site for Philadelphia that I am now proud to say continues to take on readership and bring on partners. Technically Philly certainly isn’t descriptive on its own and makes for a fairly long domain. But I like to think we’ve developed some degree of brand recognition. That name means technology and innovation coverage to a few thousand people in Philadelphia.
The secret is, I think, that within reason, if you brand it, they will come.
When you’re launching a business or a brand, a check for domain availability has to be part of the brainstorming.
I worked with Shannon McDonald to launch a hyperlocal news site for Northeast Philadelphia. Initially in late 2008, she wanted the product to be the Web presence of a print product she wanted to call NEast Magazine.
After a meeting of the most influential media leaders in the region made clear no drastic foundational investment would be made into niche news anytime soon, I knew I needed to secure my finances — as a new homeowner, especially — and take a more cautioned approach toward building News Inkubator, Technically Philly and NEast Philly.
A funny thing happened not a week or two after I made this decision. A friend made me aware of a job opportunity I actually wanted.
On Mon. Jan. 18, I walked into a Locust Street building in Center City Philadelphia and began defining what a media director should do for homeless advocacy nonprofit Back on My Feet.