Category Archives: Journalism

SF Chronicle’s Cooper: ‘The Fight’ to Save/Remake Daily Journalism

The politics of keeping newspaper sites relevant in the social era are intense on all sides.

San Francisco Chronicle Managing Editor Audrey Cooper is in the thick of it. Cooper, who has been at The Chronicle for six years, has been in the news recently over a “Food Fight.” Specifically, how is a foodie-town like San Francisco going to cover the restaurant/food and lifestyle scene?

In an interview with San Francisco Magazine, Cooper notes that the restaurant reviews are “the most clicked on things” in the paper. And “chefs are like our local celebrities. But does our section get to that narrative,” even as it publishes four pages of recipes?

The Chronicle site and its companion SF Gate site are the best read news sites in the Bay Area with 17 million users. But “the fight to save daily journalism is like a bar fight,” she says. “We need to get more aggressive about change. And print readers don’t traditionally like changes a lot. But the status quo is not enough.”

Cooper adds that “there are a lot of blogs and specialty publications starting to gnaw at the edges of what we do. That’s true of tech coverage, real estate, food. If we just sit back, then they’re just going to eat us alive.”

We’re conducting a fireside chat with Cooper at our Interactive Local Media conference Dec. 10-12 in San Francisco. Register here.

ILM East: NYT’s Michael Zimbalist on The Importance of Linked Data

The New York Times and other news organizations have been hampered by the short cuts of HTML and hyperlinks, but are now reclassifying to provide more structured, fluid data in a major development with massive implications, notes New York Times VP of Research Operations Michael Zimbalist, who keynoted Day 2 at ILM East. The benefits are immediate in terms of SEO, but longer term, provider richer product for consumers, notes Zimbalist.

“Information has become increasingly granular or structured,” notes Zimbalist. Each unit of content has extensive machine readable metadata about itself.” Fluid information can move more easily among machines and people.

In the case of The New York Times can now process the 300 pieces of professional content that it produces every day — a brick of compiled information — into multiple formats, including things such as personal editions and slide shows. “You are reaching underneath the databases the power the Web to do new things,” says Zimbalist.

The key is to move the surplus of names to strong identifiers that are linking to data cloud driven bymeta data. The Times, for instance is embarking on moving all its data to DBpedia, which drives Wikipedia, Freebase, which is owned by Google, and GeoNames.

To date, 29,000 names have been recontextualized for a new semantic platform – a “super librarian “ –, which includes 39 percent of people (“Edgar Allen Poe”) , 31 percent of organizations, 76 percent of locations (“Park Slope”and 14 percent of descriptions. “The future is bright for librarians,” jokes Zimbalist.

ILM East Day 2 027

The Super Lineup at ILM East March 26-28 (Boston)

ILM East is coming back to Boston March 26-28 with a lineup of do-ers and innovators that are transforming and re-defining the local space.

Highlights include a featured keynote from industry legend Ted Leonsis (Groupon Vice Chair/Amex Board Member/Sports team owner/AOL mastermind), along with keynotes/interviews from Jason Calacanis, Leslie Berland, Jay Herratti, Michael Zimbalist and Michael Silberman.

Other highlights of the 2 ½ day event includes a pre-conference rundown on Local search run by Andrew Shotland of Local SEO Guide; a full plate of Top BIA/Kelsey research and forecasts; a special Venture Capital panel; and innovator panels on Social, Mobile, Deals, Video and Hyperlocal (the latter co-moderated with Merrill Brown.)

KEYNOTES/KEYNOTE DISCUSSIONS
Ted Leonsis: Owner, Monumental Sports (Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards;) The Vice Chair of Groupon;, Board member of Amex, former Vice Chair of AOL; Author, The Business of Happiness
Jason Calacanis: CEO, Mahalo; Investor. Calacanis’ career has been at the cutting edge of local and social media and reflects all the big trends, from his development of The Silicon Alley Reporter to Weblogs (AOL), Mahalo, and the creation of TechCrunch50 and Launch.
Leslie Berland, Vice President, Social Strategy, American Express. Berland’s a major deal maker deeply involved in Amex’s mega FourSquare and Facebook deals.
Jay Herratti, CEO, CityGrid Media. Herratti always gets top rankings at our events. He runs IAC’s super quad of the CityGrid Media Network, Citysearch, UrbanSpoon and InsiderPages.
Michael Zimbalist, VP, Research Operations, New York Times Co. Zimbalist leads the NYT’s 12 person research unit. He’s deeply immersed in cutting edge social, mobile, tablet and video efforts.
Michael Silberman, GM, New York Magazine Silberman is the mastermind of NYMag’s development of a super set of verticals catering to the “New York state of mind.”).

FEATURED SPEAKERS
Bill Bice, CEO, SpaBoom
Merrill Brown, co-founder. MSNBC.com, Court TV
Jim Douglass, EVP, Cartera Commerce
Jere Doyle, CEO, EverSave
Walt Doyle, CEO, Where
Adam Japko, CEO, Digital Sherpa
Maria Kermath, Dir.,, New Tech & Sales Apps, AT&T Advertising Sales
Mark Josephson, SVP, AOL Local
Charlie Kim, CEO, Next Jump
John McIntyre, CEO, Pixelfish
Randa Minkarah, SVP, Revenue, Fisher Communications
Randy Parker, President, SMB Apps
Mark Schmulen, GM, Social Media, Constant Contact
Andrew Shotland, Publisher, Local SEO Guide
Andy Slater, VP, Digital Agency Sales, Katz 360
Christopher Tippie, CEO, FindNSave
Darren Waddell, EVP, Product and Corporate Marketing, Reply.com

Join hundreds of senior level local executives at ILM East for the local community’s best networking and insights. You can register here for earlier bird rates.


Internet Pioneer Ted Leonsis

GoLocal 24: Positioning Hyperlocal at the Top of The News Cycle

The decline of newspaper readership opens a door for other media to head the news cycle, with everything else trickling down to the TV and radio stations and Web sites that feed off the original content.

That’s the premise for GoLocal24, a local news and lifestyle content company that started with a website and broadcast partnerships in Providence, R.I., and will add a Worchester, MA site in February. The site has seed funding from Angel Street Capital and 10 people on staff — including a well known local news personality.

Founder Josh Fenton says he lived-and-breathed the news cycle as a Hill staffer in Washington, and later as the owner of an ad and PR agency. The decline of newspaper readership has convinced him that there “is a likelihood that the newspaper that drives the news cycle will cease to exist. Already, newspapers have “no relevance” to most consumers under 45 years old, he says.

Launched last year, GoProv is likely partially responsible for a decline of Belo’s Providence Journal website, which Fenton says is down 30-40 percent since last summer. Local readers “have had a choice for the last 12 months. We’ve broken more news stories” – quite a claim for such a small site, given the large newsroom that The Providence Journal has.

Multi-channel targeting is the key, notes Fenton. Right now, GoProv is acting as the news source for Channnel 10 NBC and four Clear Channel radio stations. “We go on drive time with the big story of the day, and also to their websites, where we are the local news widget,” he says. Some of the stories, in fact, break on the broadcast stations, then push back to the Website. In addition to breaking news, GoProv is producing a five minute clip of daily news, using two anchors.

Video, in fact, is seen as a great asset as the site preps its Worcester, MA site. Living in the shadow of Boston, there is no network TV station affiliate in Worcester, although it is a city of one million people. “You never have Worcester or Worcester county news on the Boston stations, unless something really horrific happens,” says Fenton.

Social media also plays a major role in building the company. Roughly 20 percent of its traffic derives from Facebook, where it has 85,000 social relationships between fan pages, writers, friends and other social assets, notes Fenton. That number may be ramped up more as additional media outlets come on board. The company is currently in discussions with a sports radio group.

Leveraging a social competency is also a vital component for the company’s advertising relationships. More than 30 advertisers buy a broad package that can include display ads, rich media, email promotions, inclusion in deals and social blasts. The site, in fact, has been cash flow positive since it was seven months old.

Hyperlocal Lives? GoLocal24 Preps Second Site

No one talks much about certain topics after public crashes – even when the opportunity remains clear. Hyperlocal is one of these. TBD.com in Washington DC crashed last February, and there is a lot of speculation that Patch.com has become a cash drain on AOL.com and is not sustainable (although CEO Tim Armstrong asserts that several of the largest Patch sites will be in the black in 2013 and that the site remains a definite “go.”)

Meanwhile, the dream lives on, and lots of independent and regional hyperlocal initiatives, in addition to Patch, are still going at it — and should go at it. Main Street Connect, a northeast site, has raised $7 million of new funding and added a new CEO. Many newspapers have launched various hyperlocal sections. The Boston Globe’s YourTown, for instance, has 50 town sites.

Local Thunder, ShopCity and American Towns also have hyperlocal products that emphasize hyperlocal commerce as much as hyperlocal journalism (arguably, an equally important part of a community buzz). A new venture is GoLocal 24, which launched GoLocalProv in Providence in 2010 and is launching GoLocal Worcester.

As an article in today’s Boston Globe points out, GoLocalProv was founded by Josh Fenton, a former advertising executive who grew up in Providence. His cofounder was Paul Krasinski, a Newton native and executive with Arbitron (and brother of The Office’s John Krasinski.) The website employs 10 reporters, including a well known local TV personality.

The article notes that the Providence site became profitable after seven months, and closed a second round of financing in December from Angel Street Capital and local investors.

Via iPad App, The Reintroduction of UT San Diego (The San Diego Union Tribune)

For newspaper publishers and newspaper readers, iPad apps tend to be nice-to-have but not especially important. Given the choice of rich newspaper apps like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, I actually opt for the browser versions over the apps: I can see a lot more content at one glance; they’re updated more often; and they load faster.

But I’ve found that newspaper apps for “lite” newspapers much better. USA Today’s headline and short story format is perfect for the iPad. The Washington Post (not such a lite paper) has a great iPad app, too.

In early December, The San Diego Union Tribune –a truly lite newspaper but with good local news and features– also launched an iPad app. The result is vastly superior to the print and browser version of the newspaper. More than 11,000 downloads have already taken place.

The UT’s iPad launch coincides with the elevation of digital chief Mike Hodges to president and COO, and today, a rebranding of the newspaper company, which recently changed hands, to UT San Diego. The new name also does away with the dated “Sign On San Diego” city guide moniker.

An announcement on the company’s website notes that “We will now use one company name and logo on all of our media products and communications: U-T San Diego. This change marks a new era in our company’s history. It will help us unify our print and digital products under a single brand with a clear and consistent expectation of quality. SignOnSanDiego.com is now UTSanDiego.com, to match the nameplate of the newspaper and our newly released iPad app.”

Hodges, a digital real estate marketing vet prior to joining Freedom Communications and then The UT, has been responsible for several new revenue initiatives. These include a heavy emphasis on the local daily deal, bolstered by the acquisition of Discover SD, an events guide and deals platform for a younger demographic.

Hodges notes that the iPad app was specifically designed to have an entertainment orientation. “The primary time that people are looking at it is after 6 PM , when people want to lean back after dinner and watch TV. They’re often reading the App as well,” he says.

The App, designed by MindGruve Interactive, is geo-enabled for traffic and Surfline surf reports. It features a FlipBoard-like news page, along with drop down “sections” for easy access.The sections include a full graphic on the Daily Deal – it shows up very well. It also prominently highlights features that were obscured in print and on the website, including arts, photos and videos.

Notably, in an effort to keep it simple, The UT App doesn’t offer newspaper content such as comics, a television programming guide, letters to the editor, user generated content or local news – although Hodges says a major local initiative will launch in early January. Other Phase 2 items will include more in-depth, iPad-only content. It might also include more localized weather (the temperature in the San Diego region varies by as much as 15 degrees from one area to the next).

Much has been made of the iPad’s appeal for advertisers. The charter advertiser for the UT’s free phase is Cadillac. When the App goes to a premium model next quarter after an introductory period, sponsorship will be available for multiple sponsors on a premium basis.

Pricing for the App, however, is still being finalized. When it is introduced during Q1, there is likely to be an a la carte three month subscription for users who just want the App, especially those outside the San Diego area. My guess is it might be priced in the neighborhood of $5 a month. But there will also be bundles for people who want seven day delivery, or three day weekend delivery.

We’ll see whether The UT pulls the trigger on a firewall for the App. Several other publishers have announced plans to charge but haven’t done so.