Compass courtesy of Shutterstock

News Experiments Prove Local Journalism Isn’t Easily Replicated

Building a local news network isn’t easy, or else The Compass Experiment wouldn’t have branded itself as an experiment.

Eighteen months after McClatchy and Google News Initiative set out to build a sustainable business model for community journalism, The Compass Experiment is essentially folding. In doing so, McClatchy will take over the Mahoning Matters project in Youngstown, Ohio, and Village Media will take over The Longmont Leader in Longmont, Colorado.

Changing market conditions from COVID-19 certainly impacted the experiment, something general manager Mandy Jenkins acknowledged in a Medium post last week. The…

Back in October, I wrote about the launch of partisan local news sites and how they were filling the void in local news in towns across the country. Since then, the amount of such sites has grown from a few hundred to more than 1,000. While some high-quality objective local news sites have launched since then, they are being dwarfed in size and scale by the partisan sites.

One example of the new wave of partisan local news sites is The Georgia Star News, which was recently portrayed by NPR as a leader in misinformation to advance partisan political objectives…

Local News
Local News

Cautionary tales have emerged in recent weeks about the inherent risks of entering the local news industry. Poynter recently called out a few of the pain points that new publishers endure, and Columbia Journalism Review suggested there isn’t enough budget to combat increasing political polarization at the local level.

All these potential pitfalls haven’t stopped several local news networks from launching this past year. These well-meaning projects attempt to fill the information gap in many North American communities, a noble effort worthy of coverage from industry insiders.

But that coverage doesn’t always address exactly how these new endeavors plan to…

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Like it or not, the idea that “all politics is local’’ is no longer reality. Instead, local government has been poisoned by the toxic political environment once confined at the state and federal levels.

Local reporters used to be shielded from the national political discourse, in part because municipal elections typically don’t include Rs or Ds next to candidate names — and even when they do, as the saying goes: “There is no Democratic or Republican way to fix a pothole.”

National politics and local politics rarely mixed as a result. But it’s almost impossible now to separate local and…

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Facebook already serves as a news source for more than half of all Americans. But some communities solely rely on Facebook and other social media platforms for local information because no nearby news outlet exists.

Local groups dominate the digital landscape, often accumulating thousands of active participants who populate public forums with well-meaning but unvetted information. Even the most astute moderators can’t keep up with the rumor mill.

For example, more than 43,000 Pennsylvania residents turn to “The News Alerts of Beaver County” Facebook Group for breaking news updates. That backfired in late 2019 when inaccurate citizen reporting — via…

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For-profit or nonprofit? That is the question lately in the journalism industry.

Nonprofit news sites have played a vital role in filling news gaps where legacy newspapers have been sold, closed or consolidated. Big-name publications such as The Salt Lake Tribune and Baltimore Sun are even converting their for-profit models, leading the stampede to non-profit status regardless of the need to do so.

But the pandemic has taken its toll on the nonprofit sector, impacting these mission-driven news operations that rely on strong economic conditions for individual donations and community grants. …

Local News
Local News

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There’s a famous saying that “All politics Is local.” As politics has become nationalized and even local candidates are now being forced to follow or defend the pronouncements of the national political parties, the adage is seemingly less accurate. Meanwhile, COVID-19 has caused the news industry to be turned on its head as all news is becoming local.

For instance, when New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announces the easing of restrictions on indoor dining restrictions in the state, reporters typically contact local restaurant owners to get their perspective on the development.

When Ali Marpet, a member of the…

Shop Local
Shop Local

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A lot happened in the first month of 2021 that confirmed many of our greatest suspicions from last year. The collective desire to consume timely information continues to be higher than ever despite an economic crisis in the local news industry. Social media is also proving more unreliable than ever as a vehicle to establish a business brand and connection with your community.

That is why local news and mom-and-pop businesses are poised for a great resurgence this year — as long as they redirect their energy from social platforms and invest in each other. Antitrust lawsuits and…

It’s no secret that the rise of tech platforms has roiled news publishers. Much has been written about what went wrong. Were news publishers a victim of their own inability to innovate? Maybe. Did tech platforms take advantage of rapidly growing user bases and a stagnant regulatory environment to engage in anti-competitive behaviors that effectively cornered the online advertising market, thus creating a wildly uneven playing field for publishers? We’re about to find out.

Tech giants Google and Facebook are now, in a big way, in the crosshairs of regulators, state attorneys general, and the Justice Department. The scrutiny now…

An incoming phone call on your landline would knock you offline. Netscape was the most used browser. Amazon was in its infancy and sold only books. Google, Facebook and Twitter had yet to spring into existence. In 1996, the internet was an entirely different animal than it is today. It was in 1996 that the Communications Decency Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Contained in the law is a provision titled Section 230.

Section 230 laid the groundwork for much of the internet we know today. In a nutshell, Section 230 provides that, “No provider or user…

Michael Shapiro

Founder and CEO of, a network of 85+ franchised online local news sites in NJ, NY, and FL. We’re making local news work.

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