What I’m thinking about as I head off to Kelsey

As I get ready to leave for Keley’s Drilling Down on Local conference, these are the things on my mind.

  1. Craigslist is not the problem. A lot of people in newspapers still fixate on Craigslist. Craigslist is more emblematic than it is the major threat. Craigslist has its own problems (I’ll cover some of this in a future post dealing with some of my own recent experiences with Craigslist). I don’t believe there is yet the definitive online classifieds model. There is still room and opportunity here for newspapers. Ebay is part of the clue, as is craiglist, as is Google, but I believe newspapers, with their local advantage, can still develop the right online classified model.
  2. IYP. A big opportunity for newspapers, but as yet inchoate. In this space, along with video, newspapers have their best opportunity for replacing lost print revenue.
  3. Hyperlocal journalism. This involves lots of databases as well as distributed media tools. Rob Curley has come the closest to getting this right, but most newspapers are still struggling to get beyond shovelware online. Unlike classifieds or IYP, the path here is clear and has been since 1995. The big problem is newspapers have been unwilling to make the necessary investments. That’s starting to change.
  4. Video. Video is always on my mind. It will win us audience and make us money. It is an opportunity in each of the three previous thoughts.

UPDATE: The other thing I wanted to mention — in commodity products such as IYP or classifieds, can one model or one brand really win the day in a distributed media environment?

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5 thoughts on “What I’m thinking about as I head off to Kelsey

  1. When you get a chance, would you jot down the data you think newspapers should go after first to publish?

  2. Mark, certainly the things Curley did in Lawrence around music and youth sports are interesting, and those are great targets, but they’re still niche. They’re still long tail.

    I can’t think of a hyperlocal DB app that wouldn’t be long tailish.

    The important thing here is the aggregate of lots of these database, not one, two or a handful.

    I’ve been saying since my East County Online days that local newspaper sites should aim to be the complete resource for the communities they serve. The power of that isn’t in parts, but in completeness.

    The value of hyperlocal databases won’t be realized until there is a full suite of products.

    That’s a long way of saying where you start isn’t as important as getting started.

    Certainly, there are free and low-cost places to start, such as (maybe, a historical record of crime logs, mapped and collated), election results, property tax records … whatever can be grabbed and made more useful through the smart use of available technology. Then there are the things that can be gathered using low-cost labor, such as local history and places of interest and complete build outs of information about local schools.

    I don’t think there is a right answer of where to start. Again, the important thing is to start, and if started, keep building.

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