Media companies – large and small – continue to look for ways to capture the huge market for local advertising (see here and here). Earlier this year, I posted a series of posts that surveyed the hyperlocal landscape – according to 5 core dimensions:
- Local News/Journalism
- Local Business/Commerce
- Local Advertising
- Local Community
- HyperLocal Business Models
- Enabling Technologies
I think I would now add one other dimension to this list:
- Local, Places, Things, and Events of Interest to me
But providing hyperlocal news and information as a viable business model has proved a challenging task for mainstream media organizations, as reflected by this post from Sean Carlton from March 2010 titled Is ‘Hyperlocal’ just hype?.
Witness for example, the New York Times decision to pass its community-driven blog in New Jersey to Baristanet.
Does this point to the failure of Hyperlocal for mainstream media organizations? Not so says Jeff Jarvis. In his own words:
For the record, I do not count The New York Times ending its New Jersey version of The Local and passing over its readers to Baristanet as a failure. The idea that The Times could have owned and run a blog with a journalist in every town and neighborhood in New York — let alone America — simply didn’t scale. The more important skill for The Times to learn is working with networks of independent entrepreneurs who own and run their own local enterprises.
TBD.com is a local/community newsite based in Washington DC that fully integrates social media tools and community into the newsgathering process. I borrowed those words from an excellent article by Vadim Lavrusik’s excellent review: TBD.com Takes a Community-Driven Approach to Newsgathering.
As Lavrusik points out, what most differentiates TBD.com is its network of local bloggers – 127 and counting – that will provide content and coverage for its site. This phenomenon of incoporating the local community and bloggers as fundamental participants in the news gathering process is sometimes referred to as Community Journalism – and it represents a profound change to how news is generated and reported in our communities.
So who’s behind TBD.com?
Just a few familiar names. TBD.com is led by Community Engagement Director Steve Buttry. Obviously this role is a highly strategic one, but it’s not like Buttry hasn’t thought about community engagement!
Location, Mobile, Video, and Social Media
All four will be key pillars of TBD.com’s strategy for sharing and delivering news and information to their communities.
In Summary …
With TBD.com, we’re seeing nothing short of a bold new attempt to reinvent local media – in terms of content, format, organization, and process. It should be an interesting experiment to follow.
Steve Buttry is one of the old-school media guys/gals who’s trying to reinvent journalism and local newspaper business models for the digital age. In April 2009, he published a blog post titled A Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection, where he lays out his vision for the transformation of media companies for a digital age.
In the video below, Buttry talks about some of his ideas for how local media organizations have to reinvent their relationships with their community:
Buttry is the the C3 (Complete Community Connection) Innovation Coach for Gazette Communications in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Gazette’s website.
Yet another example of mainstream media seeking to reinvent themselves in a time of great change.
I really don’t think this can be emphasized enough, and Steve Buttry‘s post Newspapers’ Original Sin: Not failing to charge but failing to innovate makes the point well.
I’m not sure things could have played out any differently given the complex social and cultural circumstances of traditional Newspaper organizations. It’s really just a classic case of an incumbent business failing to adapt to disruptive technology as described by Clay Christiansen in The Innovator’s Dilemma.
To my mind, when faced with disruptive change, both an individual or an organization have to be willing to die. By this, I mean willing to face an existential “loss of world”. However, this can be a very painful and bewildering experience, which is why it is not an easy or painless road to take. Nonetheless, if an individual or organization is truly facing a disruptive, discontinous change in their environment, it is a reality which must inevitably be faced (unless of course, one just quits or drops out of the game, which is always a possibility).
Anyway, there you have it.