The people formerly known as the audience

Posted on 10. Oct, 2007 by in Hyperlocal


Dan Pacheco, Northwest Voice, John Wilpers, Boston Now; Jarah Euston, Fresno Famous; Dan Barkin, Raleigh News and Observer

Moderator: David Cohn

The panelists talked of their development of user-generated content on the local level, involving those who Barkin called “people formerly known as the audience.”

Pacheco outlined his creation of nine different social networking and user-generated print products, including Northwest Voice. Wilpers spoke of BostonNow, which reverse publishes, putting bloggers into the paper. Euston talked of starting up Modestofamous and Fresno Famous, local entertainment portals which were eventually sold to McClatchy. And Barkin talked of the Observer’s efforts to give readers a voice in the paper by placing their stories and photos posted online on a previously moribund Page 2 in the metro section and getting them to share their experiences for an expose on state traffic courts.

“The newspapers have a tremendous asset to be able to reverse publish,” said Barkin. “If they don’t utilize that asset, they’re really missing a bet. Most still don’t. A very small fraction of newspapers are doing any reverse publishing. They’re not using that significant magnet of printing content to bring people onto their website.”

Of particular note was the Observer’s community site,, with content from the site feeding a page in the paper. It is also using the community to help with reporting.

“One of the things we did in the middle of our reporting, we invited the public in with a fairly big display on our city and state front,” said Barkin. “We need your help with x, y, and z. Tell us about your experiences in court. Tell us what happens on the highway. Wegot a tremendous response, incorporated the response in a prominent part of the report.”

All of the panelists, especially Wilpers of Boston Now, said they use the user-generated web content to produce print publications, which in turn drive the production of more web content. Wilpers said as many as two-thirds of his bloggers make it in to the paper.

“All of you print, great irony,” said Jarvis.
Debbie Gallant, of baristanet, said she was not interested in a print component.

“Going to paper and having validation in print is something we’re not seeing,” she said. “We’ve exceeded the local newspaper in tems of circulation. We’ve become the game in town. The reporters from The Star-Ledger get real excited when we link to their stuff on baristanet. The digital game can become the game.”

Jarvis asked Jim Willse, managing editor of the Ledger, what his relationship should be with baristanet. “I haven’t got the foggiest idea,” he said, before suggesting there might be some synergy on the revenue side of the ball and with content such as high school sports.

Jarvis suggested a meeting between the two during hallway time later in the afternoon.

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