Wednesday, January 31, 2007 to use Citizen Journalism to power content

New real estate sales portal looks to be poised to be something more than just a muliple-listing service for the Internet. According to info on the site posted by Saul Klein, CEO of RealTown:™ is the first real estate Internet portal to rely on multi-layered Citizen Journalism for the bulk of its content; and it is one of the first media portals to embrace Citizen Journalism from every vantage point, from content creation to content delivery.

This is interesting--and may work in the case of a site and service like this. First, if it is a relator posting the "citizen journalism" then there is an incentive and possible money earned from the effort. Money more than likely won't be earned from posting to the site (don't know the revenue model), but will be earned by the realtor if the sale is made.

And there's nothing like free PR.

It would be nice, though, for there to be a clearer idea what is meant by "citizen journalism" in the case of RealTown.

What RealTown is asking for, though, is different from a site asking folks to post news-type stories about town goings-on with no agreement for any type of compensation. Relators powering the "citizen" content do indeed stand a chance of some profit from posting.

Yet further down comes this oddball sentence:™ integrates Citizen Journalism and Professional Journalism, giving equal editorial weight to articles from both camps, tapping the great resource of undiscovered talent and knowledge and making it available to everyone. What, though, does this mean in relation to the real estate business? There's a good chance I'm missing something (and if anyone knows r/e better, please inform) but does this mean they're willing to pay the "professional" journalists and not the "citizen" journalists? When there are few hard-and-fast differentiations between professional and citizen journalist--one of those being the earning of money--this does raise a few questions re how is going to keep the distinction.

I'd say that a distinction based on payments of money could be problematic. One based on reputation--unless the professional is an already established professional and known in that way--not so much. Then it may be a matter of the professional simply not accepting money for posting on RealTown (which is the case with cit j site on Canada.)

Some community aspects that may work:™ offers articles, blog posts, property search, and discussion threads from growing and diverse on-line communities, currently numbering over 40,000 members.™ members also enjoy access to a free web site publishing tool as well as free blogs. Available soon will be property and agent rating systems.™’s underlying design allows members the ability to easily add rich, up to the moment content to their RealTown blogs, Communities or web sites with a few easy steps (and in some instances automatically) so they can share content with other bloggers and other community members, and with the public. Members provide not only content, they contribute to shaping the design and functionality of the web and e-mail platforms themselves.™ is, after all, their community.

A one-stop shopping site, where one can find customer ratings, etc. is a rather productive idea--and may prove very valuable to folks moving from one state to another. Real Estate sites can still keep their own blogs *and* post additional content to RealTown that could drive inquiries back to their site, thus not lose traffic (and perhaps even gain some.) Here's RealTown's blog portal. RealTown also plans to use email lists and message boards--good move because each of these features allows for people to participate in the community in ways that are comfortable for them (not everybody cares to blog or leave comments on blogs due to many reasons around identity, need for anonymity,etc.) As long as the message boards are well-moderated, they will work.

This will be an interesting community to watch evolve in the upcoming year.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

One in 2,000 Bloggers is a great place to be

Are you part of Tino Buntic's 2000 Bloggers project? I'm in there between two really cute guys ;-) But seriously, the list is amazing: it's people you know, and people you don't. It's the A-list, B-list, C-list and the No-list...beautiful thing about it: you just want to click the pics and find out who all these beautiful people are. Utterly amazing....Added bonus: it's creating Technorati links! ha!

Read more about it on Tino's blog. I can't imagine how long it took him to code all patient while it loads. you will not be disappointed. oh, and if you find yourself in the group, email Tino for the code--or me, and I'll pass it on to you...

Important notethis blog was recently removed from Google's indexing--and it may have had something to do with 2000Bloggers. Which, obviously, is no longer here. One of the ways a blog can be removed from Google is from legal action. Someone who was listed in 2000 Bloggers, a Rose DesRochers, didn't like her pic being listed there--and had her husband Shawn send around cease and desist letters to remove her picture from the code. I received one of these, which I forwarded to Tino B., who told me she'd been removed from the code.

I had no idea who she was, what she looked like, or anything. Yet, if this letter was sent to Google, Mr. DesRochers may have had a hand in having me removed from Google.

However, my friend Ron Miller was also removed from Google's index and he *didn't* display the 2000Bloggers code.

So, since I don't know why this blog got removed from Google's index--and will probably never find out why--I've taken down the code just to cover my ass.

Google will hear about this. A lot. And loudly.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Canadian Citizen Journalism Site Covering Pickton Trial Profiled

Published today at Online Journalism Review: Canadian site finds new ways to elicit reader reports which is an interview with Paul Sullivan, editor-in-chief of Orato's one of the few sites I've come across that has "citizen journalism" from all over the globe--and has successfully sent two "citizen correspondents" to cover the murder trial of Robert Pickton in British Columbia Superior Court.

This is great stuff!

Notes: The Editor's Weblog links to OJR/Orato story

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

UNLV Conducts Survey of Blogs Effects on Social Interactions

Two students at UNLV are conducting a survey on how blogs (and our blogging) effect our social interactions. When I received the link in a comment to one of my posts, I wasn't sure if it was hinky, so I checked it out. It's a legit survey--you can find it at this site.

I've emailed the students to get a little more background information, and will post an update to this post when I hear from them.

It was actually quite fun to take the survey--the questions are well-thought--and it's kind of nice to be helping someone out on this kind of project. If you get the chance, stop by and take the survey.

Update 1/26: I received a great email today from Reza Vaezi, grad student at UNLV in the MIS department. He's working with Dr. Reza Torkzadeh. A quick description of the study from Reza Vaezi: "In this study, we specifically look for the effects of Weblogs on social capital and in turn on trust among people who frequently use Weblogs." I asked if it was tough getting approval for this study (knowing that many colleges and universities discourage blogging by grad students and all levels of faculty.) Reza did confirm for me that it took them over a month and a half to get approval for the study. Didn't surprise me at all. Blogging is, still, considered something of a "fringe" activity with a number of unknown and unproven elements about it--which makes it a bit suspect to many in business. I wish them the best of luck in getting good responses with the study and hope many bloggers in all levels will participate.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Battle of the Spammers--Round 2

A flurry of really nasty spam has hit this blog in the past couple of days. It must be manually posted as I have word verification. Since it's making it past the word verification, I will now have to move to Comment Moderation.

I'm not all that fond of Comment Moderation--it's something that leaves the poster kind of in the dark, I think. But it's come to that.

Amazing that people actually *pay* spammers to do this--and I bet there are some folks who think it's a legitimate form of marketing or promotion.

Madison Ave. as a Threat to Democracy

What happened to radio, happened to television, and then it happened to cable; and, if we are not diligent, it will happen to the Internet.....
...Old media acquire new media and vice versa. Rupert Murdoch, forever savvy about the next key outlet that will attract eyeballs, purchased MySpace, spending nearly $600 million, so he could, in the language of Wall Street, monetize those eyeballs. Goggle became a partner in Time Warner, investing $1 billion in its AOL online service. And now Goggle has bought YouTube, so it would have a better vehicle for delivering interactive ads for Madison Avenue. Viacom, Microsoft, large ad agencies, and others have been buying up key media properties, many of them the leading online sites, with a result that will be a thoroughly commercialized environment, a media plantation for the 21st century, dominated by the same corporate and ideological forces that have produced the system we have lived under the last 50 years.
Bill Moyers: A Pillar of Democracy is Under Attack found via the Sideshow and King of Zembla who points to NY Rep. Maurice Hinchley's efforts to restore the Fairness Doctrine...

Also, if you're interested in proof of Moyer's thesis, simply subscribe to the various newsletters sent daily by MediaPost. There is an incredible number of deals occurring on any given day that, unless you have a deep interest in The Industry, you're most likely not going to see. The deals don't make the MSM--perhaps due to a jaundiced view that people don't care, or perhaps because of the primacy of the latest report on Britney Spear's new love interest--but the stories are there. It is up to us to pay attention.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Editing for We Media Miami

I was recently made Blog Editor and Social Media Manger of the iFOCOS blog for the We Media Miami conference.

Since we'd like to keep the conversation rolling, we are going to be posting now, during and after the conference. Lots of con blogs drop off after the initial event, and I'd really like to see this one keep going for as much and as long as we can do it.

So far, a very interesting lineup of folks are attending--many of whom I've met before, and some I'm really looking forward to meeting. (I also attended the first We Media in October '05....)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Art Buchwald Takes an Era With Him...

A friend just IM'd this notice on the death of Art Buchwald....

The man had an awesome life. He really took the whole bull of an experience by the horns and made his own rules....

Yet as I look over the particulars, I notice that this college drop-out, who had no formal journalism training other than working for an Army newspaper, was not only one of the finest writers of the 20th century, but also won a Pulitzer Prize....

And all I keep wondering: if "professional" journalism remains so hung up and depressed and angry at the world, will it be able to hear the voice of the next Art Buchwald?

Or will it be too busy pouring over the video resumes of top-noch spoon-fed J-school grads to bother to notice what might be roiling in the rabble?

I'd hazard a guess that the next Art Buchwald just might be noodling around with a blog right now...trying his (or her) hand at self-publishing because to do so is to play by one's own rules...

Maybe not just like, those days are gone. But maybe a modern equivalent.

With Buchwald's death, we see not just the death of a great talent, but also, literally, the end of an era. Buchwald wrote by hand and on a typewriter. That's not how we do it now. Much more is expected--video, podcasts, writing. Would even a young Buchwald be able to master and keep up with the emerging demands of the e-journo landscape?

Maybe, but maybe not...

Think about it: if you're having to draw up storyboards for a video presentation, might you have the time to perfect a craft like satirical wit? Maybe--maybe not. If you're busy spending an hour or more simply editing and re-mixing a podcast, will you have time to develop your unique written voice? Maybe--maybe not.

And would Buchwald have been any better if he'd had all the gizmos, gadgets, and pods that we have nowadays. Maybe--maybe not.

They say "you can't take it with you." Depends on what it happens to be. Buchwald certainly is taking a certain it with him--an era in journalism and writing that is, perhaps, being buried under the weight of bad business and too much technology.

Say a small prayer for the passing of a great talent. And think about it....

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

links 1/16/07

Censorship in Thailand...."Freedom of Information" only to those with university degrees (take heed, American citizen journalists)...Wikis could maybe change the fate of world politics?

From Bangkok Post: CNS media 'censorship' is a big mistake: Whatever the denial by the Council for National Security (CNS) chairman Sonthi Boonyaratkalin that he had nothing to do with the UBC pay television's ''censorship'' of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's interview with CNN, the writing on the wall is too obvious to miss. always important to know what's going on in other parts of the world...

Republic of Tanzania: Proposed media bill most draconian, say stakeholders: The [media] stakeholders argue that making it mandatory for a person to have a university degree because he or she can practise journalism in the country would effectively mean that the media would no longer convey the voices of the ordinary people. When I listen to some U.S. journalists kvetch about citizen journalism, I think that they just might love a bill like the proposed Tanzanian "Freedom of Information Bill"

AOL looks to buy internet advertising firm TradeDoublerThe deal, which equates to $30.63 per share, was unanimously backed by TradeDoubler's board, although some shareholders believe the bid is too low.

From Joe at Techdirt: Can A Wiki Force Transparency On Oppressive Regimes? A new site called Wikileaks is offering a way for dissident government employees working under oppressive regimes to anonymously leak information on their government's behavior. The site, which is backed by proponents of ethical leaking, is chiefly targeting countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Obviously, the idea of ethical leaking is open to debate, and some might argue that one individual should never get to decide what should and shouldn't be a state secret... In this country, maybe it's not the government, but the employees and stockholders of major corporations that should use wikis to expose corruption or as catalysts to change. Perhaps we would have avoided Enron if there'd been wikis--can't really *shred* a wiki, now, can you??

Monday, January 15, 2007

links 1/15/07

Journalism sings "I will survive"...South African cit j. and ethics...The Giant makes Media tremble...little apps dying along the way...

Chris Peck on Journalism still vital in new world....Chris (who I met at the Media Giraffe conference) has some very important points in this statement about how journalism can remain vital in a new media landscape...

From South Africa: Citizen Journalism flexes its muscles...a Judge's drunkenness is captured on camera and a Rhodes University prof questions whether "civilian journalism comes with the ethics and morals which are ensured by mainstream journalism".

From MediaPost: Wal-Mart Picks Martin, MediaVest In Agency Re-Review The saga of Wal-Mart's advertising continues...

Greg Linden on Findory rides into the possilby expire by benign neglect: Findory has been successful. Findory has influenced work at Google, Microsoft, AOL, and elsewhere. I am pleased with what Findory has accomplished. At some point, I have to declare victory and move on. I am moving on now, not to a new venture, but to spend more time on health and with family.
... Greg's right. (via Federated Media) Citizen Shovelware isn't Citizen Journalism

Update 2/20/10: apparently "citizen shovelware" won't die. See this new post on AOL/'s "hundreds" of pages idea Will3 yrs and AOL brand make a difference? I doubt it.

Update 9/12/07 Today I received a press release announcing Idearc Media Corp's $3.3m investment in That's nice. However, given that Idearc is a spinoff corp of Verizon, and Verizon is one of those big telcos that not only denies service to rural areas of W. Mass (under the excuse of lack of profitability) but also stands to gain from the anti-Net Neutrality, partitioning of services nonsense issued the other day by the U.S. Dept. of Justice--well...y'all can fill in the blanks re my opinion...

The New York Times doesn't quite get what citizen journalism is about: witness this piece that highlights a new piece of citizen shovelware called (and completely doesn't get hyperlocal citizen usual for msm...)

In an odd twist-of-software-building, seems to mimic many of the features of via a consultant friend: AT was first)--only differenct being AT has managed to have already put up sites for pretty much every town in the U.S. Apparently, AmericanTowns founders have that same sort of "if you build it, they will come," optimism that was part of Backfence. They've also had some success in one region of the U.S.--most notably Pleasantville, NJ--and believe that lightning will continue to strike in every single town across the country.

They've even rigged it so that you can see there are members in your town--just no more than the first 25 without having to register yourself. This is a sure-fire way of getting people to register, but no guarantee of participation.

I find it odd, too that the site's founders, Jim Maglione and Tom Panian, believe people will flock to their app to post stories just the way they do at

The thing is, their app doesn't look like a citizen journalism site and doesn't have the sense of local community as (or Baristanet.) looks like is what could be considered "citizen shovelware"--the basic message being "we want to be your town square! come shovel your content into our site and let us make some money off of ads!"

Some local papers that use products want to be their geographic area's virtual town squares, too...but the success of those varies from place to place, with some place feeling nothing for the product, while others finding use for it during big emergencies ( comes to mind.)

Although, when something that feels so corporate wants to be so hyperlocal, it just doesn't feel right...

A key component to the ideal of citizen journalism that Maglione and Panian don't appear to have considered is that there is an amazing spirit of indepedence and a strong sense of civic duty among citizen journalists--and that there are great pieces of cheap/free software out there for them build their sites. There really isn't much incentive for someone interested in citizen journalism to want to use M & P's app.

Even if the effort is kind of corporate, that it is hyperlocal corporate makes a difference. I'm thinking of that has a very good community because of the type of paper it grew out of.

Yet another aspect of that's missing is that sense of virtual community and a community flavor that is so much a part of real hyperlocal citizen journalism sites. Sure, participants can register and post all sorts of information, but there's nothing that allows for comments--there are no blogs, no forums, etc. There are listings for attractions and there are even some photos of a local music event from someone's Flickr account (in Easthampton)--but there's no sense of life there. One of the biggest criticism levelled against in the recent weeks was that the sites seemed bland and lacking community. There doesn't seem to be too many ways one can build active community on AT either.

And even if there was, who would moderate it? Registration is a great start, but registation is no reason to put a site's community management on auto-pilot. Leaving comments in thin air does not make happy those who want to interact...

And what about's economic model? Looks right now to not only want to maximise GoogleAds, but also to take in local advertising, thus siphoning off more revenue from local media. Yet, from what I know about the local ad community's thinking, if there isn't a clear incentive, and a quick return, on their advertising, they're not going to go online for long. (I'm also reminded the following statment from Susan Mernit's recent post"Most of the really good--and viable--hyperlocal sites--are small businesses that serve a focused audience, with decent ad revenues but nothing like the big numbers VCs need for their $5 to $13 MM investments"

Further, I don't believe there's a one-size fits all citizen/community journalism model that's going to cash in, rake the big bucks, and put down every other citizen journalism project that's out there. Every community is different, and there are various levels of online participation in every communty.'s cook it up, throw it against the wall and see what sticks model of citizen journalism may not be what inspires communities of people to participate. I can see from the Easthampton site that there may be some local musicians who might like its app, but that's not to say the same for Bozeman, MT or Kalamazoo, MI, or Searsport, ME or anyplace else on the map.

Yet only time will tell...

Note: I would consider Backfence to be a form of "citzen shovelware" also--have it on very good source that Backfence was modeled on , and wanted to outdo AT. However, it's not about outdoing AT, but coming up with a better model where people feel connected. IMO, neither provides that sense of connection to anything beyond a corporate mothership.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Jackson's "Unofficial Yahoo Wiki" online

The Unofficial Yahoo Wiki is up and running. Jackson's statement:

Some critics have told me, "if you don't like what's going on at Yahoo!, why don't you just sell your shares and stop wasting your time." I simply say to them that there is more to be gained from working together with the "Plan B" community and all other Yahoo! shareholders to unlock value in this company than selling our shares and buying stock in a competitor.

When you believe in something, you don't just run away when things get tough. It will be interesting to watch how this all unfolds.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The "Wiki-ization" of Yahoo's Business Plan??

Eric Jackson's mad as hell and he's not going to be a rubber-stamping, mealy-mouthed stockholder any longer...

and wants stockholders to use blogs and "open source" the development of a new business plan by using wikis for collaboration on change...

This is amazing stuff...

"The company seems to be suffering from a lack of vision,...," sez Jackson Jackson also calls for "new blood" -- folks who have made their money, and money that has not come through stock options or grants. Yikes! What blasphemy!

He'd also like Yahoo to start distributing dividends to stockholders.

Who says you can't teach old white guys new tricks?? ;-)

Found at Matt Ingram's blog

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links 1/12/07

too many good reads...too little time...

"Clicking In" Revolutionizes Online Advertising (from Bend, Or): According to the Eyetrack 111 study by the Poynter Institute, the Estlow Center for Journalism and New Media and Eyetools, Inc., banner ads at the top of Web pages get barely a glance. The ads that attract the most attention are the ones that blend into the surrounding editorial content

Some people just say no to communications tech
(Luddites unite!)

Bloggers' Credentials Boosted With Seats at the Libby Trial But for the first time in a federal court, two [out of 100] of these seats [reserved for media] will be reserved for bloggers. After two years of negotiations with judicial officials across the country, the Media Bloggers Association, a nonpartisan group with about 1,000 members working to extend the powers of the press to bloggers, has won credentials to rotate among his members. The trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the highest-ranking Bush administration official to face criminal charges, could "catalyze" the association's efforts to win respect and access for bloggers in federal and state courthouses, said Robert Cox, the association's president. Bob Cox, you go! :-) Also and important JD Lasica finds some criticism of MBA and it does make me think they have a point. I know Bob, and I don't think he's out to create another A-list, but this could be the downside to MBA stepping in to arbitrate on a matter such as this.

What Is It With “Citizen Journalism”?
And what's your point, J. Angelo?? Perhaps you should meet my friend Bob Cox. or Lisa Williams. or wanderindiana. or Chris Grotke and Lise LePage....shall I continue??

Memphis Conference Spotlights Media Issues Today kicks off the 2007 National Conference on Media Reform...some good stuff, but I wonder what Jane Fonda has to do with all of it? Also: Dan Gillmor has an astute observation on the "leftiness" of this con. Very good point, and it would be nice to see some discussion about it on Dan's blog.

Google plans street advertising presence Google wants to eat the world. But is there enough Pepto to help with the resulting media indigestion??

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Grassroots Journalism" 2nd Ed Now Available

The new 2nd edition of Eesha Williams' community journalism manual Grassroots Journalism is now available.

I met Eesha at the Media Giraffe Conference last June--a really neat, upstanding kind of guy who knows from whence he speaks. This book should be read by anyone looking to do any sort of community/citizen/activist type of writing/reporting, no matter what medium--print or online--they want to use.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Major S.A. Journalism Awards to Include Citizen Journalism

If you live in South Africa, and have a citizen journalism site, you could actually enter your site for a Telkom ICT Jounalist of the Year award

Telkom ICT qualifies a "Community and Citizen Journalism" category as follows:

Journalist is not affiliated to a commercial organisation

Professionals are not allowed to enter

Citizen Journalist: Stories must be published on a personal web site, blog, group-blog, or citizen journalism aggregator. Republication of stories produced for the traditional media (print, radio, TV) or commercial online media is not allowed.

Community publishers: publication must be targeted to a sub-metropolitan audience or a limited size niche market

Matthew Buckland blogged about the awards and notes that "community" and "citizen journalism" can be two different things--about which I totally agree. Yet the simple fact that citizen journalism is being considered for a major award somewhere on the globe is a major step forward!

Deadline for entries is Jan 15.

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Congrats Eric Marcoullier!

Got an email this a.m. from Jen Marcoullier, Eric's wife, giving all of us out here in the 'hamptons (massachusetts-style) the final heads up that MyBlogLog has finally been sold to Yahoo.

Eric blogged it too.

So many amazing things going on--must be a new year!


Sunday, January 07, 2007 suffers downsizing--cites low revenue

Much interesting commentary is emerging about the downsizing at Perhaps some of Backfence's revenue trouble could be atttributed to the reliance on a single, spotty advertising revenue stream rather than developing multiple revenue streams...let me explain:

One small bit of internet hubris that I'm learning much about is that sufficient income for a project can be generated simply from advertising. After all, there's no huge overhead like printing presses--and there's certainly no pay for most citizen reporters.

There seems to be a mode of thinking that because there's no huge overhead for printing and paying reporters, that the ad revenue generated from local readers will be sufficient enough to sustain a citizen site. Yet even if a town is very much online, there are a finite number of folks who will be interested in the publication, even if the content is super-great. This is something many non-cit j bloggers already figured out. Few I know look to ad programs to provide them with anything more than slighly above coffee money.

Think about it: there is, perhaps, in the landscape of the 'net, a parallel between the narrow-focused personal blogger and the hyperlocal citizen jornalism site in that both cater to particular niches in this vast landscape. A large number of weekly readers--say, in the thousands--still might not be sufficient enough to create sustainable income through advertising alone. And there are perhaps a finite number of people who will be interested in what the neighborhood has to say, the same way there's a finite number of folks who are interested in the stories about kids, or lovers, or other life misadventures...

There's more to it: A few months back I had coffee with the online ad sales rep of a local TV affiliate, who informed me of the difficulty not just in selling online ads in this particular geographic area, but also getting the ads to pay off.

There are three reasons I see for this: one is that local businesses don't believe their customers are online. That's a narrow-worldview problem (seen it, heard it, and so did the rep.) The second is that if there isn't anything to keep attention (not eyeballs) focused on a site, the ads won't get clicked. No interaction, less clicks. The third reason is bad site design--which also leads to loss of attention.

Interactive features, though, are no guarantee that people will interact. Recent figures noted that only 1 in 10 web readers are web commenters.

So, if people are checking a site the same way they might check a hyperlocal paper--only for the stuff about school lunches and what's happening at the Senior Center--and there is little interest in spending time and interacting, there may end up being not much in the way of ad clicking.

Now, I also started to wonder about how all those small-town free newspapers I always see are able to keep printing. The local Easthampton paper, The Summitt, is supported by th Daily Hampshire Gazette which took a cue from the Wall St. Journal and put all its online content behind a paid-subscription wall. This has worked: I know friends who now subscribe only to the online version and have ditched the print. I'm not sure if it's increased the revenue of the Gazette, but I'm pretty sure it's part of what helps keep The Summit a free local paper.

In Chicopee, the town I used to live in, there were several different free hyperlocal papers--the Chicopee Herald and the Chicopee Town Register are the two that come to mind. It's a bit difficult to gather up the various revenue streams besides web design that are offered by the Herald's parent company Reminder Publications. However, the Town Register's parent company, Turley Publications, lists a number of different revenue sources besides selling advertising, most of them connected to printing--which one would think as a natural revenue generators for a news printer.

So, if small-town hyperlocal publications need additional revenue, it would stand to reason that hyperlocal online publications (whose circulations and levels of interest might be even less than print) would also need additional revenue streams beyond ads.

Yet for many there seems to be little strategic thinking about online products. There's sort of an "if you build it, they will come" Field-of-Dreams type of thinking. And while Field-of-Dreams may have been a great book, outside the confines of fiction, its philosophy is somewhat akin to building castles in the sand.

Update 1/16: Mark Potts Responds: "You are completely correct in saying in your blog posting that "if
you build it, they will come" is no way to build hyperlocal citizens'
media sites--and completely incorrect in saying that Backfence used
such a strategy. We have extensive community outreach programs in all
of our communities, and the sites are managed by editors that
interact with the community daily. Proof of our philosophy is easily
seen in the enthusiastic participation we've gotten from local
community groups, politicians and activists.
Mark also noted in a separate email on the economic model: the California sites are operating at least as well as the DC sites did at the same point in their lives. These thing don't happen overnight... good point to bring up on the corresponding time frames. I thank Mark for contacting me directly on the matter.

Additional: I left a comment on Mathew Ingram's blog re my thoughts on additional revenue streams. Mat responded with the belief that a good community and content can still work. A few months back Steve Yelvington on his blog discussed the matter of small papers developing proprietary software (although I can't find the post on his blog) and Jay Small suggested doing some ad design work (that was for newspapers, but could also work for citizen journalism sites as well.)

Basically, great content alone can't save hyperlocal citizen journalism any more than it can sustain small hyperlocal papers. Hyperlocal sites can't be TechCrunch any more than hyperlocal papers can be the Washington Post.

Note: if look at the "blogs that link here" section, please DO NOT click the second blog. It's a splog that stole the entire content of the post at Poynter's E-Media Tidbits about Backfence.

UpdateWaPo on Backfence's woes..msm doesn't get cit j. Vin Crosbie sez: Realistically, it's going to take close to 10 years for the business models to be there and for there to be enough advertisers willing to give money to hyperlocal start-ups...Backfence's problem is that it was too early." Possibly. or was it that worked well in Metro VA and MD just didn't fly in the Bay Area?

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Springfield, MA ain't the only place where Kennedy Fried Chicken's got problems

On New Year's day there was a shootout at the Kennedy Fried Chicken on Main St. in Springfield...which also resulted in the fast food restaurant being cited for sanitary violations and also faces scrutiny over its tax status, management and fire safety...

but apparent it's not the only Kennedy Fried Chicken place with problems. Check out the story about a Brooklyn Kennedy Fried Chicken in Brooklyn....

There's more to dangers in fried chicken than exploding fryers.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Are you a Placeblogger?

By now, y'all must've read at least one post somewher else about Lisa Williams' Placeblogger site and project...

So I won't go into all the details--you can check it out for yourself...

but you also might want to check out this great writeup in the B'Globe's Business Filter Blog.

Place blogging, IMO, is like the next step out of navel-gazing diary style blogging that's most identified with adolescents. Most placeblogs will reflect some elements of the blogger's personal life, but they will also reflect the community in which the person well as the things that matter in adulthood: good coffee, property taxes, who said what to whom at the last school board meeting...

These are the things that begin to concern us only when we're done roaming and are settling down and settling in. Let's face it: we all settle down at some point, no matter how many protestations and promises we make to ourselves in young adulthood. We may feel all career driven and everything, but those old vices of hearth and home just grab us by the gonads and make us settle down.

And once settling-down settles in, one must get concerned about one's community--who lives there, who's controlling it, how it's growing, and all that stuff.

Think about this: much handwringing is ofen done over whether or not young people are voting. Voter apathy in young people is *always* and *traditionally* high (with the exception of the '60s, when they were dying en masse)...yet if you did a survey 20 years later of those same apathetic (and perhaps a-theistic) young people, you just might find that many of them have grown a civic back-bone (and some even go back to--perish the thought!--church).

One has to have a *reason* to invest in a community. That reason--whether it's buying a home or having kids or both--then becomes the impetus to pariticpate in the life of the town in which one lives.

Placeblogging is a way of participating in the the new town square of the Internet while still living in one's home town.

And that's just part of being a grownup in a brave new world.
My friend Mary Hodder blogged about her appearance on the NewsHour :-)

Check out the video Part 1 and Part 2

So nice to see another woman in these sorts of high falutin' intellectual dialogues!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Is social media really dead? Say it isn't so!

Been catching up on my media pundit blog reading when I clicked the link to Steve Rubel's Social media is No Mo post...and wondered if Steve's been imbibing too much of that A-lister kool-aid these days...

He might have thought differently if he'd gone to the WOMMA Summit rather than LeWeb3....but maybe it wasn't A-listy enough...nope...just a bunch of people comparing notes and trying to figure out how their companies are going to negotiate the myriad forms of social media without getting their heads handed to them...

All that aside, there's some great commentary on Rubel's blog, and some great posts on the subject including this from Brian Oberkirch's blog: The blog is called MicroPersuasion, right? It’s supposed to focus on the tiny moments of niche conversation that make all the difference. Yet he’s consistently falling into the Technorati 100 trap of remaking social media tools over in the image of Big Media

Exactly. Steve's perspective is now one from the top of the heap. He can point to folks he knows personally and say that the "the barriers to becoming a member of the fourth estate have been obliterated by these very same technologies" and point to Scoble blogging on the trail with John Edwards.

Yet, with all due respect to Scoble, he and Arrington and many others account for a very small portion of those who have made it to the top.

There's also this from Brian Solis's blog:Is it me, or am I the only one here that sees the blaring differences between blurred and dead?
Yes, he’s correct that in 2006 most, not all, media went social. Many of the tools he described are globally deployed and utilized. But the last time I checked, only a small portion of the global population is actually socializing using “social media tools” and, most importantly, these tools are merely creating the framework for a broader, more sophisticated social media platform for the future.

Solis is right on. While so many want to go to Technorati's "millions served" scenario of the numbers of blogs created in a day, there's never an accounting of how many of those blogs are abandonded, nor is there ever a clear assessment anywhere of the places within the U.S. alone that are still struggling to get online with dial up (because of telco disinterest in rural America) and thus make the hurly-burly of online socializing pretty darned difficult (let alone make Second Life impossible.)

As for my own H.O., I think that perhaps Steve's feeling the residual effects of how the blogosphere bit back at Edelman this year: from the Wal-Mart bloggers, to the Wal-Mart "flog" to the Edelman/Microsoft A-lister computer giveaway debacle, the B-list and the even smaller voices of the Lower Lists have really taken a bite out of Edelman.

Perhaps it's more of a Death to Social Media mini-manifesto, rather than the Death of Social Media.

Think about it.

Monday, January 01, 2007

It's not what McClatchy sells--but what McClatchy bought

So, McClatchy decided to sell the Minneapolis Star-Tribune to Avista Capital Partners for less than half of its purchase price...

But let's look at a bit of background to try to discern the minds of McClatchy:

The MNStrib was NOT part of the huge McClatchy-KnightRidder deal. McClatchy bought the Strib in 1998 from Minneapolis-based Cowles Media Company.

Avista C.P. appointed Chris Harte to run the Strib--who seems to have some knowledge of the newspaper business, with his last newspaper positing being one of president of the Portland Newspapers, publisher of the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram and still is part owner of 8 Maine weeklies. Yes, he may appear seriously smarmy to some but he's not totally without newspaper creds of some kind.

But, all hoo-ha over selling aside let's take a closer look at what's been going on re the citizen media/social media side of both McClatchy and the Star-Trib:

The Star-Trib launched a entertainment guide/social media site back in November, with Matt Thompson at the helm--who's no fool when it comes to running social media sites.

McClatchy purchased and just recently....

Now, could McClatchy be more interested in focusing its money and efforts into social media sites in its own California neighborhood--thus turning its efforts more into ones of local ownership-- than trying to manage a newspaper with its own social media site (and citizen contributor site) in another state? Yes, Avista C.P. is based in New York, but where will Chris Harte's main office be if he's in charge of the Strib?

Maybe it's not really the decline of journalism inasmuch as a re-ordering of the way journalism is done--who writes it, who comments on it, who owns it--and maybe that's not the worst thing in the world in the long run (although it will indeed hurt bunches of people now--no doubt about that.)

I'm going to be *very* interested to see what Chris Harte does with the Strib's social media holdings. As much as the paper is important (because regardless of what the pundits think, lots of people still like "dead tree media"), if we are following the rhetoric these days, it's the social media stuff that's going to make or break the paper. If Harte and ACP gut all the social media stuff that the Strib's been working on--then he might be the total creep that some may think he is right now.

On the other hand, if he brings in some folks to do a good re-design--the site's kind of ugly and hard to navigate--and moves forward with social media, then perhaps Harte will be on the right track.

Only time will tell (and hand-wringing won't help.)


New Year Over Easthampton, MA

We have our own version of the Times Square ball out here in starts at the top of the Brass Cat...

and is being lowered manually by two guys on the roof...nope, no motorized lowering system out here...

New Year comes in sometime in the middle of the ball drop...don't really matter though

we figure it's officially the New Year when it hovers over the door of the Brass Cat...

and there's a sprinkling of freezing rain and I'm ready to go inside myself.

Happy New Year everyone! (hope the weather's better whereever you are...)

Beth Kanter is raising $50,000 for children in Cambodia


Lisa Williams launches Placeblogger

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