The need for high-quality local journalism has never been greater, and yet the obstacles to launching a hyperlocal media website are still daunting for aspiring local news publishers.
Hundreds of hyperlocal news websites currently operate in the U.S. and Canada, and every one of those publications faced certain challenges and struggles in the beginning. How do aspiring local news publishers overcome the odds to develop successful, profitable local news businesses? One way is by relying on the wisdom of others. Another is by using the tools that other publishers and technology vendors have developed to streamline the process of launching a hyperlocal news site.
The local news community has developed a number of resources for aspiring local news publishers. These resources run the gamut from technology platforms to educational newsletters meant to guide aspiring local news publishers through the process of launching an online startup. The ultimate goal in each of these cases is to help aspiring local news publishers start their businesses, and also to help existing publishers make their websites more profitable. Given that every publication is unique, it’s important to note that these resources are less about specific mandates and more about general education and tools for building businesses that are actually sustainable.
Below, we have put together a collection of essential resources, platforms, and digital tools for aspiring local news publishers. Although this collection is geared toward those who are just dipping their toes into journalism entrepreneurship, our hope is that established publishers will find this guide useful, as well.
Top Resources for Aspiring Local News Publishers
The Society of Professional Journalists developed the Journalist’s Toolbox to serve as a resource for everyone in the media community. It contains thousands of tips, tools, and links to mobile apps that aspiring local news publishers can refer to as they grow their media businesses. In particular, digital news publishers will find helpful resources in the Digital Security, Fact Checking, and Data Journalism sections of the Journalist’s Toolbox.
Our weekly newsletter, The Industry Insider, highlights the latest headlines impacting the digital publishing industry. The Industry Insider is geared toward aspiring local news publishers and established media entrepreneurs. In addition to the week’s biggest headlines, the newsletter includes tips, tools, and tricks for publishers interested in media website development and search engine optimization. Learn more about The Industry Insider, and subscribe to receive our latest edition.
Interested in learning from your peers? The Project Oasis database from LION Publishers lists more than 700 independent local news publications spread across the U.S. and Canada. The database includes in-depth data for hundreds of online publications, with the ability to filter your view to narrow the scope of publications that appear in your search.
Wonder Tools is a weekly newsletter from the journalist Jeremy Caplan, highlighting the latest and greatest services, apps, platforms, and digital tools for publishers, editors, and reporters. Caplan’s reviews are written from an independent perspective, which means they include both the strengths and the drawbacks of any features tools. New newsletters are sent out each Thursday morning.
Pico is a signup and payment tool that we frequently recommend for digital publishers interested in launching subscription and membership programs. Pico’s customer software handles the collection of email addresses and the management of digital audiences, so publishers can focus their energies on putting out great content and selling more subscriptions. As a Pico Certified Developer, Web Publisher Pro makes sure that Pico’s signup and payment tools are properly installed, configured, and optimized on our clients’ WordPress sites.
Currents is a free website that aspiring local news publishers can use to see what topics are performing best on all of their competitors’ websites. The Currents platform works in real-time, so in addition to being able to see which topics are trending, publishers can see the major traffic sources for each of those top trending stories and which keywords people are using to find them. This is an especially useful tool for publishers who are honing in on their editorial focus and putting together strategic content strategies.
The News Entrepreneurs Slack community is a peer learning community for both active and aspiring local news publishers, as well as anyone who is interested in online media. Some of the channels in the community are for members only, however anyone interested in journalism entrepreneurship can still contribute to topics like #startups-advice and #jobs-grants-fellowships.
To learn more about what it takes to launch a media business from the ground up, contact Web Publisher PRO today.