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Keeping An Eye on The Citizen Journalism Business Model

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What’s the motivation and the model behind independent, one-town, local news sites? iBrattleboro is typically feisty and anti-commercial, refusing Google ads because: “they look national and Brattleboro folks are smart enough to know that Google is not a local business. Our site promises support for local business, and we only take ads that relate to locally owned people, businesses, venues, or events.” It’s run by a couple who say the site is thriving and ad dollars have followed, if slowly. iBrattleboro’s own classified ad service launches soon, and that’s likely to be free for its local audience.
The site says it has a good relationship with local commercial media that often picks up stories from iBrattleboro, but that others in local media have warned them that things will change if the site starts eating into their advertising profits. He also said the town’s advertisers are keen for a print spin-off, but they are web babies and just aren’t interested.
The strength of the site and the brand are in its relationship with its own community, with an integrity and involvement that was traditionally the role of local newspapers. We’ve heard all this before of course, but there’s some good work going on all over the country and where audiences go, money will follow.
Related: Audio Interview: Jonathan Weber, Founder and EIC, NewWest
@ Milken: Citizen Journalism and The Business Models
The Business of Citizen Journalism

This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.