Ideas and discussion from BxB2010 Summit

Baristanet: Where’s the Money?

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One of the major topics at the Sept. 24 Block by Block summit was money: How can a local news site support itself financially? Journalism master’s students from the Medill School at Northwestern University interviewed conference participants about their business and revenue strategies.

We hope these posts will continue conversations that started at Block by Block. If you have ideas that will help these and other online community publishers achieve their goals or questions about how they are doing that, please join the discussion in the comments. Thanks!

By Elizabeth Bahm

Since it launched in 2004, New Jersey’s Baristanet has served as a model for hyperlocal Web publishing.  Baristanet’s Liz George explained how the site’s business model works.

George said Baristanet began as a for-profit organization because “it seemed a natural way to compete with existing media in our market who were receiving advertising dollars.”  The site’s primary source of revenue is display advertising.

An ad-supported model builds opportunities for community engagement, George said.

“Readers are often local business owners — and as a hyperlocal start-up, we too are local business owners,” George said.

Baristanet is owned by George and Debbie Galant, former New Jersey columnist for The New York Times. Its staff includes “a number of paid contributors and paid regular writers, tech and design people,” George said. Volunteer contributions, which account for about 20 percent of content, take the form of emailed photos and eyewitness accounts, story leads, and some content contributions such as essays or other stories.

Baristanet relies on advertising revenue, sold by the site’s sales representative.  While George declined to release specific figures, she said that Baristanet is profitable and brings in a six-figure annual revenue.   She says plans for future revenue sources include developing “performance-based advertising, events and video ads.”

These interviews were conducted as part of a class at the Medill School of Journalism that’s focused on new approaches to hyperlocal publishing.  To follow the class’s work, check out their class blog, Local Fourth.


Written by richgor

October 22, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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