Monday, June 15, 2009

Is Time Warner Offering New Hope for Hyperlocal Coverage?

I read with great interest a post on today's Nieman Journalism Lab on Time Warner's $10 million purchase of Patch, 6 New Jersey-based hyperlocal online news sites. Debate has been raging in the journalism community on whether hyperlocal sites are a potential savior for newspapers being battered by editorial cuts and plummeting advertising revenues.

Patch had already announced plans to expand to Connecticut, and the front page of the web site says it's hiring local editors. On the one hand, it seems that readers enjoy hyperlocal sites. But on the other, these sites, like newspapers' online sites, struggle to find models that will help pay the writers and support the site.

Nieman notes that a transaction like this shows that there can be some value for local news and information. But it also warns that sites like Patch and other sites like it still need to find ways to fund ventures.

It's news like this that the NABJ board needs to follow as members continue to lose jobs. By partnering with such efforts at the ground floor, NABJ members can benefit by being the first ones in the door when these efforts begin hiring. There's no disagreement that online news is the wave of the future. What is important is that we have a board that is sensitive to this shift and work with companies like Patch for future job opportunities. I hope I will get a chance to be a part of that transformation as Region II Director.

And please mark your calendar -- the "NABJ Candidates Forum - Region II" will be held Wednesday, June 24 from 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT. I hope you'll join the webinar for what I think will be a thoughtful and interesting debate.

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