Local Interactive Strategies

Two angles on “local” as a strategy

Also posted at the AIM Group blog.

Howard Owens posted a very thoughtful, and thought-provoking, blog item arguing that “local” as a media strategy will  make even more sense in the future because of societal changes that are drawing people toward smaller geographic communities.  He’s talking about the reasons behind Gatehouse’s new site The Batavian, (which was covered in this blog a couple of weeks ago)  but he could be talking about any community:

The beauty of the web for local news is not only does it give us a new chance to refocus on true local news, but it makes it easier to enable the strong civic engagement that only comes when people talk with each other. Through comments and blogs and UGC video, we have a chance to pull people away from “American Idol” and into a real dialogue about the issues that matter most to their home towns.

Meanwhile, another site is taking that very tack, this time more of a grassroots approach. The West Seattle Blog covers that neighborhood like a small community newsletter, except it uses video, crisp writing, and instant coverage. This morning, for example, I’m reading coverage of a neighborhood association meeting, and it was posted about midnight last night — with video. According to coverage in, founder Tracy Record was an assistant news director for the local Fox affiliate, and left in December to focus fulltime on her neighborhood blog. She has since been joined by her son, and her husband, selling ads. “We say that we’re sustainable,” she said. “We decided on a leap of faith to live on this job last year. We had a 401k, we were living off savings for a while. We’re not drawing on that anymore.” Record is now able to pay freelancers, and she hopes to hire an additional staffer by the end of the year.

Two models approaching local as an opportunity: one from a media company looking for new growth, one from a  citizen looking to meet a need in her neighborhood.

A lot of this stuff runs under the radar of typical industry coverage because it’s so small. And that’s too bad, because taken in the aggregate, it’s big. There’s a lot happening at the community level that adds up to significant experimentation — and possibly, oppportunity.

September 23, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for mentioning us. There are certainly at least a few other sites around the country having the kind of success we are – we bow down and hail Baristanet in New Jersey, for example (and actually met the fabulous Ms. Galant long before our site’s start three years ago – at which time we had no idea it would become what it has become) – but it also surprises and amuses me sometimes that indeed we are somewhat below the radar. (Yesterday by the way was something resembling the news day to end all news days and we set a new traffic record.)

    But what you mention in the Howard Owens quote is vital: This isn’t just about us covering the neighborhood news, though we do that fervently and frenetically, 7 days a week. This is about our community coming to a virtual gathering place to talk – about everything from the HUGE wave of development that is sweeping our peninsula, to whether a certain grocery chain is coming to town, and way beyond, big and small. So when you get into this space, remember the DISCUSSION as well as NEWS … our positioning statement is that of “24/7 news, information, discussion” for our area. That discussion happens both in comments on the news stories we cover, and in forum topics that community members initiate, and often that’s where the “crowdsourcing” of breaking news happens, too.

    Comment by TR @ WSB | September 23, 2008 | Reply

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