Local media: the next big step?

Allbritton Communications Co., the parent company of Politico.com, ABC 7 and NewsChannel 8, recently announced plans to launch a new website that will focus on local news in the Washington, D.C. area. This interesting advancement will be led by Jim Brady, the former executive editor of WashingtonPost.com.

I discovered this piece of news while perusing Politico.com a few days ago, the site that I am analyzing for my final paper. This move comes at a time when many forms of traditional media are struggling to hold onto a fickle and impatient audience. As online journalism is becoming increasingly popular, it comes as no surprise that along with websites for national news, there should be a niche for websites covering local news. This innovative move is one that will likely be watched closely by many other news sources, potentially starting a new trend of local news websites.

The entity taking on this move is also noteworthy; Politico.com achieved success seemingly immediately, fulfilling the online niche for political addicts, so it follows that the creators of this new site are hopeful that Politico's success will be repeated.

The other main focuses that this site will encompass are a push toward mobile compatibility and a combination of professional journalism and citizen journalism, a subcategory of the field that is becoming more and more popular. This will definitely be a site to keep an eye on, as its success or failure could determine whether or not local media becomes the newest form of new media.



I would be interested to know what has sparked this phenomenon of national websites hoping to localize. There must be some market research or new findings that make the big sites feel as though they can compete with the smaller niche sites on a local level. Right now, you also see it over at ESPN.com where they've launched individual sites tailored to Boston, Dallas and Chicago sports. For years, the local papers in those towns had near monopolies on the local coverage of sports. Now, big, bad ESPN has come in, hired away some of the best writers and tried to invade their territory. My point is that whether it's ESPN or Politico or whoever, they know what they're getting into and they have a plan that makes this seem like a good idea. The decline of newspapers no doubt has something to do with this, and it will be interesting to see if local outlets have a counter-punch ready to protect their territory.

Greg Schimmel said...

It certainly is an interesting trend and I can't decide yet if I think it is exciting or disconcerting. The ESPN example is a good one as they are extending their influence into local coverage instead of just provide news on a national level. On one hand, sites like these present more opportunities for journalists to work with big media outlets and ensure high-quality local coverage. On the other hand, the one thing local newspapers and other local outlets used to have on the national corporations was the ability to devote unique time and space to local issues. I go to ESPN for my big, national sports news, but I still check the Hartford Courant to see how my old high school football team did. If national corporations soon have a monopoly on local news as well, local media outlets could soon become obsolete.