Washington Post closing hyperlocal site

After two years of trying and failing to make a buck on its hyperlocal website LoudounExtra.com, the Washington Post will close the site next month.

Rafat Ali has the story at PaidContent.org, while former LoudounExtra blogger Tammi Marcoullier posts a few thoughts on the site’s demise.

As Rafat points out, the closure stands in interesting contrast to yesterday’s news that MSNBC is purchasing hyperlocal data service EveryBlock.

Residents of Loudoun County, a suburb of Washington DC, have also just lost their only local radio station.

Globe & Mail flattens structure, adds digital staff

Globe and Mail

J-Source has posted a memo from the Globe & Mail’s recently promoted Editor-in-Chief John Stackhouse outlining a reshuffle of senior managers.

There will be no deputy editor. Three masthead editors will take expanded responsibility for News and Sports (David Walmsley), Features (Jill Borra) and Business (Elena Cherney). Commentary and Custom Content remain under their current editors.

Executive Editor Neil Campbell remains in charge of Resources. Adrian Norris is Managing Editor – Presentation with responsibility for photos, graphics and design across all platforms.

As previously announced, Anjali Kapoor joins the Globe next week from Yahoo as Managing Editor – Digital, with Kenny Yum (from nationalpost.com) as editor of globeandmail.com.

In keeping with the digital expansion, Stackhouse announced that:

Two more positions will be added shortly to the core digital group – one to manage new projects across the site and our growing video capacity; the other to edit our content for a growing mobile platform.

This newspaper owner is doing OK

Calixe in Toronto

Times may be tough for some newspaper owners, but Santa Barbara News-Press co-publisher Wendy McCaw appears to be getting by just fine.

Her helicopter-toting 193-foot motoryacht Calixe is in Toronto, drawing plenty of admiring looks.

Ms McCaw and her fiancé, Arthur von Wiesenberger, are co-publishers of the News-Press, a newspaper she purchased in 2000 from the New York Times company.

She is divorced from cellular telephone tycoon Craig McCaw and has been a controversial newspaper owner.

In 2007, a National Labor Relations Board judge ordered the News-Press to reinstate eight employees it had fired for union organizing.

In 2006, six editors quit the paper over editorial ethics, an issue highlighted in the film Citizen McCaw.

Calixe’s helicopter

Five trends in the reinvention of news

The Cato Institute’s Cato Unbound website this month features essays on the future of journalism.

Clay Shirky kicked things off on Monday reiterating a theme on which he blogged a few months ago – that this is a time of upheaval for traditional news media, with no single clear path to future sustainability.

Today, another journalism professor, Philip Meyer of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, responds with five trends he sees emerging from the current chaos. It’s worth reading his full article but, to summarize, the five trends are:

  1. The marketplace is calling for ever more specialized information. This trend was well established in the second half of the 20th century, and the Internet greatly accelerated it.
  2. The need for processing is increasing at two levels: in the production stage where analysis and interpretation help readers or listeners make sense of the oversupply of data, and in the transmission stage where information is packaged for ready retrieval by the specialized subsets of the audiences that want it.
  3. We are starting to place more value on evidence-based versus source-based journalism.
  4. Dividing journalism into subcategories of specialists has already started a fourth trend: increasing the number of certification programs for journalists.
  5. The leverage for motivations other than profit is growing rather than shrinking. The low entry costs of the Internet guarantee that.

The series is scheduled to continue with contributions from Paul Starr on July 17 and Steve Yelvington on July 20.

NY Times challenges to readers to become reporters

The Local - neighbourhood websites operated by the New York Times

Neighbourhood website The Local, a project of the New York Times in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, will launch a virtual assignment desk next week.

Readers are invited to propose assignments – and to carry them out, starting with this one:

We’re looking for someone to go to the 88th Precinct Community Council meeting next Wednesday, the 10th.

It’s at 7:30 p.m. at 333 Lafayette Ave, the Pratt Towers apartment complex, in the community room. At these things, the precinct commander, Capt. Anthony Tasso, or his appointed proxy, will field questions from the audience. There are a few other presenters. It’s usually pretty interesting, or at least the good parts are. Sometimes it even gets a little heated.

We’re looking for someone to go, take notes, take a photo and write up the festivities. Get exact quotes and names of the people you’re quoting. And send the results to us by early Thursday morning. We can explain the details and give you basic training.

The way of the future? I wonder if the “lucky” volunteer will realize how many people from the “mainstream media” will be to watching this with enormous interest.

Charting the change in classified advertising

These charts, from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, really need no commentary and certainly won’t come as a surprise.

Percentage of adults using classified advertising websites

Newspaper revenue from classified advertising

Of course “classifieds ads websites” is another way of saying Craigslist, which had 42.2 million unique visitors in March 2009, compared with 53.8 million total unique visitors to classified sites.

For an equally dramatic chart of US newspaper ad revenues (not just classifieds) over the past three years, visit Alan Mutter’s blog.

American Press Institute endorses paid content

API Report logoIt’s feeling a lot like 2005 again, as newspapers prepare to leap aboard the online user-pays bandwagon. The only thing that’s changed is the level of desperation.

Rick Edmonds, at the Poynter Institute, reports that a new whitepaper from the American Press Institute espouses five “doctrines” to help publishers gain more revenue from their content.

They are:

  • True Value. Establish that news content online has value by charging for it. Begin “massive experimentation with several of the most promising options.”
  • Fair Use. Maintain the value of professionally produced and edited content by “aggressively enforcing copyright, fair use and the right to profit from original work.”
  • Fair Share. Negotiate a higher price for content produced by the news industry that is aggregated and redistributed by others.
  • Digital Deliverance. “Invest in technologies, platforms and systems that provide content-based e-commerce, data-sharing and other revenue generating solutions.”
  • Consumer Centric. Refocus on consumers and users. Shift revenue strategies from those focused on advertisers.

The Nieman Journalism Lab has posted the full API report.

Digital is focus for new editor at Globe & Mail

Click to watch John Stackhouse video

Yesterday’s executive changes at the Globe and Mail are being described as “part of a broader set of changes to expand the newspaper’s digital strategy.”

Few hints of what that might mean are being made public at this stage, but statements by publisher Phillip Crawley make it clear that he wants changes to happen quickly. And the man appointed to lead the paper’s newsroom says the paper could charge for its online news coverage.

As a result of the shakeup announced yesterday:

  • John Stackhouse [seen in the above video] becomes Editor-in-Chief, replacing Edward Greenspon, 52, who led the paper for seven years. Mr Stackhouse, 46, joined the paper 20 years ago, and has been editor of Report on Business since 2004.
  • Roger Dunbar, who has been Vice President of Digital and Business Development since joining the paper in 2004, becomes VP-Business Development and Marketing.
  • Angus Frame, 37, becomes VP-Digital. He was the editor of globeandmail.com for seven years before being named Group Director – Digital Media last year.

The changes were effective immediately.

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