I don’t think I’m saying anything groundbreaking or surprising but it’s the unfortunate reality of things right now for journalists and for readers. After years of declining revenue and staff reductions, local newspapers don’t serve their communities like they once did. Since 2007, U.S. newspapers have cut 42,000 journalism jobs, severely stymieing their ability to cover their communities. With less revenue and less reporters, newspapers cover less. It’s as simple as that. I’m not going to waste your time by writing another obituary for local newspapers. Instead, I want to introduce you to a solution – NewsCastic.
Newscastic’s mission is to redefine local news.
Glad you asked.
NewsCastic is doing two things to redefine local news. The first is our Marketplace.
We are about to introduce a Marketplace, connecting journalists with local advertisers and businesses, who will sponsor local news stories. With the Marketplace, journalists on NewsCastic will be able to browse paying story assignments in their area that sponsored by local advertisers and businesses. For example, the local Ford dealership wants to sponsor coverage of the local girls high school basketball team. The dealership will pay a journalist, let’s say $40, for coverage of each home game. In exchange, that dealership will get to put its marketing message on the story. The journalist gets paid and the dealership reaches customers via a news story instead of a traditional ad.
Right now we’re working to convince businesses that sponsoring content is a more effective way to reach customers than traditional display advertisements. Sponsored content is something of a trend right now (though we’ve been working on Newscastic for more than a year). We’ve seen sponsored content on the national level (Buzzfeed) but we want to take this model to the local level, providing a legitimate source of revenue for journalists and writers. Of course, we’re not going after journalists who have a full-time job with benefits at the local newspaper (for now) but we think our model will be attractive to all the former full-time journalists out there who have either moved on from journalism or who now can only afford to do it as a side job. We’re also reaching out to community bloggers and local writers who are already covering their communities. Our model could prove to provide an additional source of income for what they’re already doing.
Once we’re able to bring businesses on board, we want the Marketplace to work both ways. Journalists will be able to post their stories to the Marketplace, making them available for local businesses to sponsor.
Our goal is to attract not only journalists seeking paying assignments but also journalists who want to use NewsCastic.com as yet another outlet for their writing. We are building a publishing platform that will enable journalists to just focus on writing and not about SEO optimization, UI, or web publishing. We are aiming to become the go-to publishing platform for independent journalists.
The second part of NewsCastic is the user experience. Registered users, both journalists and readers, can get their local news (right now just RSS feeds) from NewsCastic.com based on their location. When reading a story, users can vote a news story as “news” or “not news.” Stories that users submit or vote as “news” are added to their Newscast. Users can share their Newscast via Facebook or Twitter or by sharing the URL (my Newscast is http://www.newscastic.com/nc/StuffJournalistsLike). We think this is going to be a great way for people to regularly share the stories they’re reading and writing to their friends and family and followers.
We have a lot planned for Newscastic. The site now is what we like to call our .01 beta site (we are a four-person team, including a journalist who doesn’t code). I invite you to take a look around. If you want an invite send your email address to me at Chris@Newscastic.com. Above all, I’d like your honest feedback. I know there’s going to be hesitation about this new proposed relationship between journalists and businesses but we’re attempting to create a sustainable model that will revive local news. If we have any hopes of succeeding, we will have to be receptive to feedback, comments, and criticism.
We literally launched the site just a few weeks ago so initially we will only have sponsored story assignments in a few markets but our goal is to offer paying assignments to journalists across all markets.
When I was offered to join the NewsCastic team, I immediately said yes. I’ve been in journalism for 10 years and to be honest, the future of local news doesn’t look too bright but instead of just lamenting about the decline of news, I saw this as an opportunity to change and fix the broken local news model.
We are excited about this new venture and I’ll keep you posted. For the most part, StuffJournalistsLike.com, @JournalistsLike and PartyLikeAJournalist.com will remained unchanged. Any Newscastic-related blogs or tweets will be clearly labeled as such.