The Future of Local Media
My hometown newspaper, the Poughkeepsie Journal, is shrinking. I can tell. Over the last five years, sections have dropped and the page count has been depleted. Local advertisers have spent money elsewhere. Seasoned editors have been let go. Freelancers wait tables.
Perhaps upstate New York is a sordid place to begin examining the future of local media. Abandoned by manufacturers and cut off from its eponymous city, the economies of rural New York have been suffering for decades. Young people are fleeing the small towns for career opportunities. Local businesses are struggling to stay afloat—nevermind buying ad space in practically defunct newspapers. So restaurant owners pen Yelp reviews, sports fans join message boards and the news outside of the Poughkeepsie Journal, by and large, goes unreported.
But a new crop of fledglings want to change all that. Enter the participants of the speaking series Future of Local Media. In a small, clean room full of mostly young, white men, “old” mainstays (Time Out New York, Wired) rub shoulders with newer heavyweights (Foursquare, Thrillist). Richard Blakeley, tall and poised, speaks to the group about his latest endeavor, Neighborhoodr. Fresh off of the success of his gross-out blog, This is Why You’re Fat, he has taken the success he garnered from user submissions and focused his vision away from the plate and onto a cross-section of Manhattan. Jamie Hutson, of The Local Life, presents a network of hyper-local guide blogs founded in Saratoga Springs, NY.
What each of these new media hopefuls represent is exactly what the Poughkeepsie Journal lacks: a cohesive, monetized, fresh approach to innovating local medial. As the internet expands and the traditional media contracts, the public is able to pick and choose what can cater best (and fastest) to their wants and needs.
The mostly young, white men in the room full of new media competitors shuffled impatiently in their seats waiting for their turns to talk. Oh yes, the Poughkeepsie Journal is shrinking—and these dogs are drooling, just ready to fight over the bones.