Online innovator Jim Brady on The Power of Local at CAJ workshop
By Ann Hui
Jim Brady, who was hired last year by Politico to create a local Washington, D.C. news site, refers to local news as the "Vietnam of news." Everyone figures they should do it, he says, but nobody quite knows how to 'win' at it.
Here are some of the highlights from his speech:
- Revenue generated by local, loyal readers is underestimated by news orgs. At the Washington Post, he says, the "dirty little secret" was that even though 85% of the site's readers were from outside of Washington, the 15% of readers who were local were generating over half the site's revenues. "We have to get away from the idea that building up unique visitors is the way to go," he said.
- If you're going to run a local news site, it's not enough to do it piecemeal. Hiring 5 or 6 reporters isn't enough to drive the kind of traffic and revenue a news site needs to survive. You have to put in resources to make a project succeed.
- Readers don't have time to dig through the mess. News orgs have to get away from the idea of dumping everything on their websites and expecting readers to wade through all of it. You have to deliver the news that's relevant to readers and their neighbourhoods. Even if this news comes from other news sites.
- There's no one revenue stream that will be 'the silver bullet' answer for news sites. Rather, different types of revenue streams are like "shrapnel," and a combination of the many different revenue streams will allow news sites to survive.
-With local news sites like Brady's, the goal is to become a habit for readers.
Ann Hui is a radio room reporter at the Star. She's also completing her final year of the master of journalism program at Ryerson University. firstname.lastname@example.org