OJR article offers financial hope for hyperlocal


Print and online editor Tom Grubisich (pictured above) offers an encouraging yet level-headed look at the economics of hyperlocal journalism in a July 19 article in Online Journalism Review.

In his “back-of-the-envelope” analysis a five-person startup, drawing slim paychecks supplemented by stock options, could compensate contributors and still eke out a thin profit on an advertising base as low as $425,000 a year.

Grubisich cites market research data suggesting that’s not too much to expect of a hyperlocal site in an affluent area, such the Northern California communities  of Palo Alto, San Mateo and Sunnyvale that were part of the now-defunct Backfence venture.

The key, he worte,  is to create destinations that “connect with their communities and produce content that users find generally interesting, sometimes significant and occasionally indispensable,” going on to say that:

“To succeed, grassroots sites need above all experienced and passionate editors collaborating with experienced and passionate citizens . . .  Working with them, editors can help pinpoint the sometimes elusive themes that shape a community’s identity. Experienced citizens know why one neighborhood school is succeeding and another is failing or why one church or synagogue in particular has a thriving congregation, but mentoring editors can help them to be better  communicators.  . . . I propose that regular citizen contributors – working, say, 40 or 50 hours a month – be paid a $1,000 monthly stipend. That comes to $20 to $25 an hour – not a lot, but not an insulting amount, either. If you’re a retiree, a stay-at-home mom (or dad) or somebody looking to close a household budget gap . . .”

Again the article is here, and if you go there do look down at the comment of Steve Crozier who offers his Dallas hyperlocal site, Lakewood-Now, as an up-and-running version of the sort of hyperlocal site that Grubisich merely postulates.