Are Local or National Advertisers the Target for Hyperlocal Publishing?



Hyperlocal sites DNAinfo, ARL Now and all have one thing in common: they target local advertisers. But what local and national advertisers expect from local content publishers is changing, executives from the three sites said, and local publishers needs to adapt quickly.

Those were the takeaways from the second day of Street Fight Summit in New York City, a conference focused on hyperlocal marketing and publishing. The discussion of advertising models featured Heather Grossmann of DNAinfo, an online publisher focused on New York City and Chicago), Scott Brodbeck, publisher of focused on the suburbs of Washington D.C. and Julie Brooks, publisher of, a hyperlocal site that launched 16 years ago.

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Numbers Don’t Lie: Venture Capital Not So Hot in LA

LA venture capital investment vs SF NY

After posting on Wednesday about the graphic portrayal of a startup boom in Los Angeles provided by Represent.LA’s mapping of the entrepreneurial landscape, Ebyline figured that a journalism-focused company should probably rely on facts, not anecdotes (although anecdotes make great ledes and kickers).

Here’s a quick chart thrown together using data from the National Venture Capital Association (downloadable to all here).

The startling takeaways (aside from the sad realization that Excel will forever be a foreign language):

Over the last five years LA’s venture funding hasn’t budged (+1%) while New York (+21%) and Silicon Valley (+17%) have shot up. In terms of deal numbers, LA is down 1% over the last 5 years while SF is up 23%.

LA’s share of funding among those three cities has held remarkably steady at around 12% since 2001.


Now, this is just one measly data set. Venture capital isn’t what it used to be, especially to early stage companies. And it sure feels like there’s a ton of buzz happening with near-nightly events all over the city thrown by coworking spacesacceleratorsincubators, business schools and investors.

But it’s hard to deny that these numbers put a dent in the Silicon Beach boosterism. (Although, actually, plenty of folks have been skeptical about the trend.)

Something for journalism entrepreneurs to ponder this weekend while they’re bobbing on their surfboards. That’s what you’re doing this weekend, right?

Using Social Media to Crowdsource Stories

social media 540

As a freelancer, it is often difficult to find credible sources for stories, especially if you are juggling multiple assignments. However, thanks to the emergence and mainstream adoption of social media, it’s easier than ever to find sources for your articles by leveraging the social platforms you already use everyday.

By using your social networks to crowdsource information, quotes and expertise for your story can make it a snap to write a story or article. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are typically best for this, as you can post your question to your friends or follower and wait for the comments and replies to flood in. Having a large personal network can make this process even more effective, especially if your friends, subscribers (on Facebook) or followers are both inclined to respond and able to provide a thoughtful response about multiple topics.

On Facebook, joining groups can also help benefit this process, as this will connect you with other Facebook users interested in specific topics who may not be friends with you, but excited to discuss specific topics. If you find yourself writing about certain topics frequently, it may be useful to look for Facebook groups to join about these topics to crowdsource quotes, information and expertise for your articles.

These strategy has worked well personally for myself, as well as traditional news outlets that are embracing social media in ways that have been pioneered by those who have worked more independently. At Seattle’s NBC television station, KING, social media coordinator Evonne Benedict has used the power of social media to crowdsource several successful stories. Recently, its sister station KTVK in Phoenix, had two local 8th graders on their morning newscast who were encouraging girls and women to go make-up less for a day and to be ‘Only You.’

The station shared this with Evonne had instantly she launched a campaign to solicit photos from KING’s audience in Seattle, though using her own personal Facebook community to start gathering the gallery and then publishing this initial batch of photos on KING’s website. After sharing the first batch of these photos, more photos poured in from the station’s official Facebook and Twitter account. Evonne says this gallery proved to be one of the station’s most viewed stories the week it was published. Evonne has also used this method to publish other successful stories, including about the recent “Supermoon,” when she used Twitter and Facebook to source photos for a story about this celestial event, as well as other local events, too.

For those who use social media to crowdsource quotes, tools like Storify make it easy to embed these quotes from Twitter and Facebook into an article or blog post without taking a complicated screen shot. The visual presentation of a quote can not only help improve the visual flow of an article, but add a level of authenticity to these quotes. For those writing articles that desire to include several tweets to tell a story, such as a conversation between technical writers or reactions to a specific event, this tool can be incredibly powerful.


How TabTimes Monetizes Content for and about Tablets


On Wednesday, TabTimes released TabTimes for iPad, a free business magazine focusing on tablets. (The TabTimes website launched in November.) Intrigued by such a niche publication and how it monetizes content, Ebyline talked to Patrick Pierra, publisher of TabTimes, about the publication’s business model and content platforms.

Is there a difference between the content available through the website and the iPad app?
Most of the content is the same. What we do is we filter some of the content out of the iPad app. For instance, some content that would be relevant mostly for users of other platforms like Android. All the articles are on the website, but if you’re using an iPad, telling you how to do something specific on the Android wouldn’t be relevant to you.

Nowadays a lot of publishers claim to be platform-agnostic, delivering content via email, RSS, online, through smartphone apps, and so on. Are there plans to offer TabTimes on other devices as well? Or do you plan to focus specifically on the iPad?
We’re working an Android tablet version and we’ll also work soon on a Window s8 version. In our specific case, because we cover tablets so we really have to be aware and keep on top of what’s happening in that space, also to try to master or at least to understand how each platform works and be closer to the evangelists. For Windows 8, it’s important for us to be in the hands of the very first people who have Windows 8.

What is the monetization strategy for the free app?
The iPad app is sponsored by FileMaker and Accellion. Both of these companies provide software-type services for professional users like web content writers, so after launch, we plan to have sponsorship programs with a limited number of sponsors during each period, providing them with good exposure: logos on the splash page when people open the app and in other places. That’s the main monetization.

Have you explored using paywalls or premium content models?
Not really in terms of paywalls. Last we launched a product which is an ebook called How to Deploy Tablets in Your Organization. We sell that on our site or the app for $49. It’s a PDF document that is displays really well on tablets. We’ll explore these products in the future. Obviously, we’re mostly B2B. We’re a business focused publication so these kinds of products for companies who considering deploying tablets make sense. We go in-depth on four case studies of organizations who’ve actually deployed tablets.

How to Craft a Multimedia Story


A multimedia story is a combination of text, video, photos, and audio. It can also include animation, graphics and interactivity. The story is presented in a nonlinear format in which the information in each medium–video clips, text, and still photos–is complementary and not a rigid, single narrative. A multimedia story avoids redundancy by not having a text segment accompanied by a video clip that essentially tells the same story. In a multimedia presentation, different segments are told in different mediums, working to present the story in the most compelling and informative way. Here’s an example.

Many news website like CNN, The New York Times and MSNBC are multimedia where they have test, video clips, audio clips, graphics and interactivity. However, rarely do you see the text, video, still photos and audio integrated into the same story, but that is changing. More media sites are beginning to utilize many different mediums to tell a single story.

Creating a Multimedia Story
Before you develop a multimedia story, gather as much information on the subject as possible. You must report on the story differently than you would as a print journalist or technical writer, where instead of writing down information you see or hear on a notebook, you incorporate every aspect of a story. Take a video camera to record video and audio clips as well as shoot still photographs and collect information that can be used for text. All of these elements can then be utilize for creating a multimedia story. Most multimedia stories require in the field reporting and face-to-face interviews with sources, but you can use other interviewing methods as well.

The Multimedia Storyboard
Before creating your multimedia story, you must prepare a storyboard, which is an outline of all the multimedia possibilities. This means doing a preliminary interview with the source or sources for background information, getting a basic sketch of what to expect in the field and looking up any published material on the source as well. Next, collect as many visuals as possible, still photos, videos clips or graphics available on the subject to see what the story’s components are.

A storyboard is sketch of how to organize a story and the list of its contents. Divide the story into parts such as:

  • Lead paragraph introducing the story
  • Profiles of source or sources
  • Any process or how something works
  • Events or situation of the story
  • History of the event or situation
  • Other issues related to the story

On a sheet of paper or cardboard, lay out what the elements of the story will be. Keep your storyboard simple – use pictures and text to map out your camera shots and ideas. Then decide which elements will be best told in text, which one in video, which in still photos and which in audio or graphics. Remember that each medium should be complementary and not redundant or repetitive. They can, however, overlap a little over the different media aspects. This is way to invite readers to explore other mediums of the story.

The storyboard is a drawing of how the story should be told and doesn’t need to be fancy. It’s simply a visual guide for your storytelling. Storyboarding helps point out the holes in your story. It helps you identify the resources (time, equipment, assistance) you’ll need to complete the story, or how you have to modify the story to adjust to your resources. A good way to learn storyboarding is to take a newspaper feature story and draw out a storyboard of all the elements in it. You can then view all of the multimedia possibilities if it were more than a print story.