Jul 18, 2011

The State of Local Journalism - Part 1


Here is a real world email I received a few months back:

Really? Wow. Good luck with that.

I'll link to the story in my weekly web round-up.

Feel free to make an offer on any of the stories
in XXXX (my publication). LOL.


The gentleman behind these words is the Owner-Publisher-Editor of a certain news service in New York State.

He was replying to an offer I had made whereby he could reprint a lengthy story that I had authored two months prior and which had been previously published in a local specialty, narrow niche magazine. Given that the piece concerned economic, energy and quality of life issues within his specific geographic coverage area, I thought it only natural for there to be interest in making it available to his constituency.

The original publisher agreed, and we were to split the requested reprint fee of $60 between us. We're talking real high finance here.

The reply to that offer is the above greeting.



Here is a real life email from June:

"Thank you for the interest in placing a
feature profile story in XXXXX Magazine!

As the premier showcase publication for the area's
movers and shakers, XXXX Magazine provides you with
exposure to the elite decision makers that will
buy your product or service.

I have enclosed a Rate Card for highlighting your
story in XXXX Magazine."


The author of this message has as her title that of being Account Executive for a monthly, glossy style magazine that is seen around the area at coffee shops, waiting rooms and libraries as a freebie.

Her A/E title is most interesting, given the fact that I had initiated this conversation with an inquiry to the publication's listed Editor as to whether they would be interested in profiling my suggested mover & shaker: a successful gentleman in the process of putting together an investment fund with a mission of funding local startups. I had no dog in this fight, with no financial motivation --- I just thought it would be helpful for this story to get out there.

Instead, I was handed a bunch of dollar signs telling me how much it would cost to get that story out there. An inside profile? $1250. If I want the front cover? $5000. Website-only was also available, but I needed to inquire by phone to get that particular good news.



A former intern received this email one year ago:

"Our Web Editor must have competent writing
and editing skills as well as excellence in SEO
strategies and implementation. Our web-only content
must have as its first priority the ability to draw
readers based on both its topical popularity as well
as optimized pages."


Our young friend, in her quest for gainful employment, had responded to a job opening at a local weekly newspaper. The above was the reply to her followup question on some of the specifics of the job's responsibilities.


So, there we have it: the three hot buttons of today's world of local journalism:
1. Uncompensated writers
2. Pay-to-Play
3. SEO-first

Part Two of this series will dive deeper. But I thought these three nuggets would serve as a good warm up.

1 comment:

Raining Iguanas said...

Shure is skary & :( huh?