Friday, September 21, 2018

Local California Paper Taps into Citizen Journalism Market


Last week The Ventura County Star, our local paper, announced the newest addition to its journalistic endeavors.
We will now receive, on a weekly basis, a new supplement titled "YourHub.Com". What is "YourHub.Com?", one might ask. Let me quote you from their "premiere issue" of March 13, 2007.

" is a great way to connect with your neighborhood and see what's going on in communities across Ventura County. Every day people upload stories, photos, events and opinions on their neighborhood Web site. Every week we take the postings from the Web site and print five different sections and deliver them with the Tuesday Ventura County Star."

Hot Diggity Damn, the local press wants a "piece" of the "citizen Journalism" pie. It's a blatant "cake and eat it too" attempt. Same old, same old, at the daily press, but why not try to carve a little niche out of this new concept?, thinks the Newspaper.

There seems to be a "fundamental problem"... While, "" is the home website, the main purpose of the enterprise is the creation of a sub-insert in a PRINTED NEWSPAPER. Of the 10 some odd pages of the first issue, at least 5 and 1/4 pages are print ads. It's a throw-away. The articles are benign and frankly boring. It made this writer wonder, "Why bother?"...So, I checked the website. and the mystery was revealed.

One might call it a "mini franchise", you can become a syndicated partner of by licensing their software in your area. You start your website, "partner-up" with a local newspaper, get your contributors, publish your contributors work and once a week your partner will print a supplement of the weeks activity. Complete with a ton of local ads.

The management team promises to supply the technology, including content publishing, reverse publishing and classifieds that, they claim, will compete with the likes of Craigslist and eBay. You will get a complete marketing solution and ongoing business development support that includes a turn-key launch kit. ...sample rate cards, marketing materials and an editorial plan. They will "give" you the opportunity to offer competitive advertising rates to the "mom and pop" shops of your area. You will get full on support in all areas...This is a business venture...$$$...Plain and simple. Not that there is anything wrong with making money. Money is good, anyone who says it isn't is either a liar or has a trust fund.

Let's look at the "citizen journalism" part of this project. Writers will submit stories to be published on the local website. Very similar to how this article will be published here on BrooWaha, Los Angeles, but then there will be weekly "editorial" decisions on what is too be published in the "PRINT" edition. So, the end result is that there is a mini newspaper, with free unpaid content, partnered with a newspaper that might well go the way of the dinosaurs. This is a mini newspaper that is chock full of "old school", paid advertising but makes the claim that it is.... "the next generation of local news."

In a recently published interview of Los Angeles Times writer, Mayrav Saar, by BrooWaha's own, Ariel. Ms.Saar offered her advice to us as writers. She explained, "Accuracy is king". This writer has to admit that he is not sure whether is cause for rejoicing or whether there is the heavy scent of a "wolf in sheep's clothing."

A list of customers, as per their web page:
The Denver Post & Rocky Mountain News
The Knoxville News-Sentinel
Ventura County Star
Scripps Treasure Coast Newspaper Group
The Wichita Falls Times Record News
The Colorado Springs Gazette
The Corpus Christi Caller Times Buffalo

About the Writer

Steven Lane is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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7 comments on Local California Paper Taps into Citizen Journalism Market

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By Tumerica on March 25, 2007 at 12:33 pm
Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Steven--very interesting indeed! I think you're right that they want a piece of us and would be getting it for free in exchange for providing folks like us with a teeny bit of spotlight. In the end, though, I imagine it's inevitable and even good for all. For instance, I ended up going to that Ventura Chocolate Festival around Valentine's Day--it was the sorriest excuse for a festival I have ever attended. I thought about writing a letter to the festival managers suggesting ways it could be improved (every way imaginable, starting with having some CHOCOLATE at a chocolate festival, for god’s sake!) and although I took notes and detailed my thoughts, I never got around to composing it and printing it out to mail. If I'd been part of a Ventura citizens’ newspaper, fer sure I'd have let folks know and rallied some support. It's reassuring to know you are part of a community and to hook up with that community. Heck, you and I could start our own Ventura citizens' newspaper, and it'd probably be cooler than theirs--but the point is to have forums and to encourage discussion and to connect us. For numbers and knowledge equal power. I'd also write posts about local anti-war activities, so that’s another way to contribute. Thanks again for writing about this. I'm going to keep my eye on it--and I wouldn't have known if not for you.
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By Tumerica on March 25, 2007 at 06:00 pm
Thanks for that insight, Joseph. Easy to see how these things could go the other direction. In this case, though, the festival planners clearly had nothing in mind other than selling space to vendors, for that was all it was. No chocolate tastings, no chocolate education, no chocolate-making demonstrations. Nada. Enormous gray area between a thoughtfully planned and executed festival and one that tries to lure too many in and in the process sells its soul. But thank you again--food for thought.
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By Steven Lane on March 25, 2007 at 08:26 pm
The chocolate festival has had two shots to get it right and missed both. The first year people almost rioted. Just like you said, Tumerica, just selling space to vendors. Everyone got ripped and you are right maybe YourHub would be a good place for a response. I like any thing "citizen", I was just wondering what the motives were. Joe, There was a benefit surf contest this weekend at the point so I was, in fact, doing exactly what you accused me of. What a great office!
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By Tumerica on March 25, 2007 at 09:29 pm
They'll like you, El G, lots of folks get amusement from your style of writing.
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By Steven Lane on March 25, 2007 at 09:34 pm
El G I think you would be a perfect test as to how deeply committed to "Citizen Journalism" they actually are. lol
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By V on March 26, 2007 at 02:48 am
Hmmm ... interesting to see how this goes. Thanks Steve.
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By Steven Lane on March 27, 2007 at 07:48 pm
El G you had better get moving...Your has a feature article on global warming and Al Gore today!
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