Yesterday I accepted a job with a start-up media company determined to reinvent the way local news is delivered at the community level. In short, I’ll be the editor of a small-town paper, a more-or-less secret dream of mine for years. That, of course, is an over simplification.
Since we’re still in pre-launch mode, I can’t talk about a lot of details. But basically we’re bringing Web and digital printing technology that I didn’t even know existed to local audiences in small towns, combining the real-time coverage, social media and customizable capabilities of Web 2.0 with good old print newspapers and other media. In a communications environment eviscerated by content cuts and dependence on amateur journalists willing to write for free, we’re heavily investing in quality content with four staff reporters in addition to me. These reporters will have the rare opportunity to develop as community journalists first, Web savvy communicators second. While our daily coverage will be rooted on the Web, we’ll be using cutting edge printing, mobile and TV technologies to keep our community connected and informed on the issues that matter to them, and delivering it the way… any way… they want to receive it.
Some of my friends in media think it sounds a wee bit nuts… and I have to admit it took a lot of consideration. But I’m an optimist, and I choose to see this move as a big “Yes!” in the face of scowling faces bemoaning the death of journalism. I think the whole thing is as retro cool, and visionary, as it gets.
Some of my best days were spent at a 15,000 circulation daily newspaper. It’s where I learned, and I’ve always said that the insight that fueled my success as a B-t0-B journalist was my focus on my audience as a community and applying the fundamentals of community journalism to every audience I served. Thoughout those years in B-to-B and online media, I’ve learned a lot more about media, audience builing and the information business… the opportunity to bring that insight back to community journalism is a real treat, and one I never expected.
The opportunity to work with smart people focused on saving community journalism, reinvigorating small-town engagement and reinventing the local news business is a thrill.