A book released by the University of North Carolina press, “Saving Community Journalism: The Path to Profitability” by Penelope Muse Abernathy, highlights the challenges surrounding local news operations and offers recommendations on how newspapers can “build community online and identify new opportunities to generate revenue.”
Abernathy is Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at UNC and a professional journalist with more than 30 years experience in the news biz, so she knows what she’s talking about. More importantly, she’s another prominent writer, researcher and educator proving that no, journalism is not dead, and yes, print can thrive at the local level. Her book, hot off the presses in April 2014, is an important one for newsroom leaders frustrated by dipping print revs and disengaged readership.
In the same vein, Josh Stearns launched the long-awaited Local News Lab last week with the help of the Dodge and Knight Foundations. The project is intended to be one big experiment in community journalism with the question, “How can local news outlets make money and keep the locals interested in what they’re doing?” as a foundation. What will become of newspaper subscriptions? How much will events play into local newsroom revenue? What about corporate sponsorships?
As a means of testing sustainability in local news, the Local News Lab will work with six pilot sites in the the New York/New Jersey area to test various revenue models, as well as try different community engagement plans. Looking at employed strategies like crowdsourced reporting, as in the case of Jersey Shore Hurricane News, and regular video news reports like Morristown Green.com does, the News Lab hopes to take away some key tenets on creating a long-term future for local journalism. They also hope to foster local media ecosystems where individuals, businesses and reporters are working together to engage communities for the long haul. You can learn more about the Local News Lab here.