2012 Archives

Hyperlocal news sites mature as founders of Baristanet, Dallas South News move on

Excerpt

The following story ran on the July 10, 2012, edition of Poynter.org.

July 13, 2012

By Tracie Powell

In as many months, two pioneers of hyper-local news websites have decided to leave those sites for jobs in the public sector. Debbie Galant, who launched Baristanet.com eight years ago, announced earlier this week that she’s accepted a job at Montclair State University, and last month Shawn P. Williams left the site he founded three years ago, DallasSouthNews.org, to work in the Dallas Mayor’s office as a digital media strategist.
 
What do the departures say about the maturity of independently owned and produced hyper-local news?
 
The sites are based on different business models: Dallas South News is a non-profit focusing mostly on blacks and Latinos living in the Southern sector of Dallas, Texas, while Baristanet – focused on several suburban towns in Northern New Jersey – has been profitable basically since year one, the founders told Poynter. They also offer two contrasting views on their future success....

Dallas South News relies on donations and advertising to cover operating costs; raising revenues has always been a challenge. The site will remain a non-profit. The site also relies on volunteers to do everything from writing, providing video, to administrative work and photography, Williams said. This year the site also received a grant that allowed Williams to hire some freelancers, and students at Southern Methodist University began providing content for the site as part of their curriculum through a partnership between Dallas South News and the school. Foote said the board wants to continue its partnerships with SMU and with the University of North Texas as well....