Thursday, April 24, 2014
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Entries for June 2011

‘In community journalism, there is no place to hide, and if you want to hide, then you have no business in this business anyway.’

By Al Cross, director, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues; associate professor, School of Journalism and Telecommunications, University of Kentucky

 Crittenden Press photo
Chris Evans, editor and publisher of The Crittenden Press in rural Kentucky, explains his mission: “We are here to serve the people.”
Photo by Allison Mick-Evans.

Lyndon Johnson once observed that "the country weekly acts as a form of social cement in holding the community together." But this son of rural Texas, who rose to be president of the United States, also declared, "The fact that a man is a newspaper reporter is evidence of some flaw of character."

Johnson was a man of some contradiction. These two views, each perhaps held with equal fervor, reflect the constant conundrum that good community journalists confront between responsibilities as a professional and the need to have friends and friendly acquaintances, as part of a community. Holding local leaders and institutions accountable while playing an engaged civic role of building and strengthening the community inevitably leads to conflict.

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The SNA Foundation recently held a webinar for the participants of the McCormick's Specialized Reporting Institute symposium. As a follow-up to symposium, Jane Stevens, Director of Media Strategies with the Lawrence Journal-World shared their year-old community health niche site, wellcommons.com, with the group.

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Online Benchmarking Report photo

A canyon has formed between newspapers companies that are gaining share in the digital space and those losing it. The following findings are based on those publications that have shown significant growth in their digital operation:

  • Most are selling “solutions” to advertisers, not just banners on their own websites. These include deal-of-the-day programs, email advertising opportunities, targeted banners, contests, ads delivered through networks to other sites such as Yahoo, Facebook or Google, mobile text offerings, etc.
  • They have a sales force dedicated exclusively to selling online products. Even the smallest newspapers have at least one online-only salesperson. Some have more than two dozen.
  • They have clear and aggressive revenue goals – often not incremental.
  • Their local interactive manager typically reports directly to the publisher, not to the editor or sales manager.
  • They view the web as a platform to go beyond what’s in the printed newspaper and give a greater voice to the community, extend deadlines and compete with other media. The web has allowed suburban and community newspapers to compete more heavily with metro newspapers, radio and television when it comes to in-depth coverage.

These conclusions represent just some of the findings detailed in the recently released Local Online Media Benchmarking Revenue Survey, prepared by Borrell Associates for SNA members.

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SNA’s Interactive Media Alliance (IMA) held a webinar in April on paywalls and metered approaches. Three of our speakers, Roger Coover, President and Publisher, The Stockton Record; Andy Waters, VP, Interactive, Columbia Daily Tribune; and Ernie Schreiber, Director of Content Development, Lancaster Newspapers, Inc., answered a number of questions during the webinar. Below are some we wanted to share. Note that each company has different metered plans and level of experience. For example, Stockton has had a paywall since last year; Columbia’s paywall is fairly new and Lancaster Newspapers is currently only charging for obits outside of their market.

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