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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…

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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…

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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…

As Election Day nears, the stakes of this election are coming into sharper focus. For news organizations, this election, specifically election night represents a crucial moment for the institution of the press. In January of this year, it was clear that the presidential race and all of the associated down-ticket races across the country would be a rollercoaster. We did not know just how steep the drops would be.

We are now just a few short days from election day. The country has been ravaged by a pandemic that is still very much raging, the effects of which have flowed…

Citizens across the United States are in the process of deciding which candidates have earned their votes for elected office, using the information available to them. Voters are being provided with more streams of information than ever before from campaign advertising to memes on Facebook to media coverage, and everything in between. Unfortunately when it comes to media, many voters only have access to cable news or national papers. While these outlets provide varying degrees of objective coverage, Americans have steadily lost trust in them. …

16th Century British statesman Edmund Burke was purported to have said on the floor of the House of Commons, “there were three Estates … but in the Reporters Gallery yonder, there sat a fourth Estate more important far than they all.” For Burke, the press served as a critical and indispensable check on government. Today, Edmund Burke would likely be disappointed to learn that some in power have taken quite the opposite view, unleashing a full assault on the press, labeling real news as fake and propping up fake news as, well, real. …

Michael Shapiro

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

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