Patrick Phillips – The Vineyard Voice

Posted on 04. Oct, 2007 by in Hyperlocal

Your work in networked/citizen/collaborative journalism.

(The Voice is new. These observations are drawn from two months of publishing.)
I founded and publish a two-way issues and ideas magazine and community publishing platform for the island of Martha’s Vineyard, The Vineyard Voice. Martha’s Vineyard is undergoing a profound change which could force many of its year-round residents off-island. The Voice is way for people to enter into new conversations about the issues that impact them. The community defines the issues — affordable housing, local food, energy, climate change — and I focus them into a monthly format. Community editors and producers generate some of the content, and I assist in audio & video recording and with photography and writing in-depth articles. It’s a lot of work and an opportunity to be completely immersed in the issues affecting the community.

What are your goals?

One goal is to become a deep content site that will, over time, be a broad connector and community resource for both the issues effecting islanders and the people who are effected. In this way people can research issues that effect them and can find out about the people in the community. Over time The Voice will become a live cultural repository. Another goal is to refine The Voice as a distributable magazine and community publishing platform, then share it with other individuals and communities that would benefit from our journalism, technology, design and community-building experience.

Notable achievements?

My notable achievements are modest, but pleasing nonetheless.
Launching is one. The vision of a simple-to-use community publishing site (just click “publish”) has been an infectious one for some time. Focussing the initial topic and research was another achievement. The complexities of the Affordable Housing issue here are vexing, and lot of effort was put into links, interviews, and podcasts and into making the in-depth article a cross-referencable resource. There is tremendous support in the community for this kind of site, and the connections made with people have just taken off. One example is that the second issue on “Local Food” is being co-produced by a community member and writer with deep connections, knowledge and experience.

Lesson you’ve learned (including mistakes you’ve made)

I have learned from others that you cannot take the “build it and they will come” approach. Relevance is key. We are driving community involvement through immersive reporting. The community connections are created through interviews, and subject videos real-time. Every connection forms a deep bond within the community and acts as an outreach program of sorts. I have also learned that in-depth reporting and high standards are key to build meaning in our community. People are highly communicative, and they expect clarity, honesty and even proofing. It’s demanding, but rewarding.

We are too young to know our mistakes. I hope they will not be disastrous. One mistake I have made thus far is being so buried in my own work that I miss the tremendous work done by others — as exampled by searching all of the attendees sites…

Are you getting revenue for this? How?

As yet, no. We are half-launched, really. The component that will drive revenue is our Find feature — to be launched by the end of the year.

2 Responses to “Patrick Phillips – The Vineyard Voice”

  1. Rick Waghorn

    17. Oct, 2007

    Patrick,

    We never got a chance to meet; apologies. But Ireally did want to bump into someone with a particularly local background…

    Anyway, what it is is that we’ve just launched our own, self-service text ads service called ‘Addiply’ – you can see it in action on the site http://www.myfootballwriter.com/norwichcity

    Having earned diddly squat from you-know-who, we decided to give our own local advertisers the chance to place their ads themselves – albeit with a little gentle nudge in the right direction.

    So, there’s five slots there; we’re currently offering the opportunity to advertise there at 3 pence per click; that 3 pence (6 cents) goes to me, the publisher; the little local advertiser likewise only pays his 3 pence (6 cents) as and when he gets a result – ie a click when someone steps into his ‘world’, his website. Otherwise his only outlay is the £10 ($20) we ask him to place in a Paypal pre-pay meter; that just clicks down as and when he gets a click – £9.97, £9.94, etc, etc and then he gets a reminder when he hits £1, does he want to renew…

    And if it hasn’t worked, he doesn’t… but as its an open bidding process, so if someone proves wiling to offer you 7 cents per click, they take their place on the site and replaces the advertiser with the lowest click-per-impression rate, ie the one that’s working the least well.

    So eventually the market – in your case Martha’s Vineyard local stores or whoever – will find its own level; and I bet you now that if I was a local DIY store in Martha’s Vineyard, I would get ‘drowned out’ of finding a place on your site via Google by the big bucks all the Martha’s Vineyards hotels and B&Bs are paying to catch your well-heeled visitor trade.

    This way, they can see there ad, on your site; they’ve placed it themselves; just like you would a little notice in the door of the local hardware store.

    As we’re looking for trial partners – and it’s only been on our site for ten days and we haven’t marketed it much – er, at all – here’s something for you think about.

    Trial it for me for nothing; all you need to do is build in a ‘box’ to accomodate a feed and that’s it; it runs itself; it’s a ‘fire and forget’ advertising system. The only time you have to ‘manage’ it is when an ad link comes up for approval – ie you get to see what it is you’re about to advertise – and you can approve that link off your mobile phone.

    And that’s it. I just need local, little sites to trial it; let’s say for the first six months you keep all the income you earn from it too. Afgter that, you’re doing me a favour… so we’ll do 5% or 10% of your ad revenue. Tops.

    You don’t need an ad dept; your little local advertisers don’t need to make up a banner ad; its text ads – direct between you the publisher and your local taxi firm, DIY store, etc, etc. No middle man; just you and them.

    Let me know what you think and I can get my software guru, aka Ian, to ping a link across and you can be started tomorrow…

    All the best,

    Rick

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