The past week saw the debut of YegNews.com, billed as “Edmonton’s Online Newspaper.” The launch of a new source of journalism is always good news, and I love that the focus is local. I see quite a few comments, tweets and likes, too, which indicates it is being well-received.
I hold YegNews’s founders, Scott McKeen and Alain Saffel, in high esteem. So I hope they will take this unsolicited advice in the constructive spirit in which it is intended:
1. Make it webbier. There are very few links in the copy, and most of those I came across link to other YegNews stories. The link economy is a crucial to journalism on the web. Mainstream media outlets don’t do it as much as they ought, mostly because their content management systems don’t make it easy. But that’s not an obstacle on a site built on WordPress. Linking also saves you from re-inventing the wheel. Why start an events calendar from scratch when you could just link to ShareEdmonton or YegLive?
2. Aggregate. YegNews has a small staff, much smaller than that found in the “corporate newsrooms” that have been downsized, Scott feels, “to the point of the ridiculous.” So do the same thing mainstream newsrooms ought to be doing — link to all of the great coverage that is already taking place in Edmonton’s vibrant new media community, and link to all of the mainstream media, too. Be the one-stop shop for all things Edmonton, regardless of the source, and you’ll be a service to time-pressed readers.
3. Do what no one else is doing. If you link and aggregate, then you can put your scarce resources towards stories that aren’t getting adequate coverage. I don’t think Edmonton needs more reporters at press conferences; it needs more reporters digging up stuff nobody knew before or making connections no one has made before. It needs people mining the open data catalogue and other sources of information for patterns and turning them into stories. It doesn’t need more of the same.
4. Understand the economic challenge. Local is vital, unique and laudable. But it is not lucrative. I strongly advise anyone in local media, new or old, to read Judy Sims’s take on Patch, the chain of hyperlocal news sites owned by AOL, for a look at why it is so hard to support local news with local advertising online. It’s a hard sell for established websites, even harder for ones just starting up. Sims has some good advice, and this Steve Buttry post on alternative sources of revenue might be applicable, too.
“We encourage creativity and risk-taking at YegNews,” Scott writes. That’s good. Both will be needed to make a go of it. I wish Scott and Alain and their crew all the best.
A few more notes, to make this a proper roundup:
— The fifth episode of the edmontonian presents aired on ShawTV on Sunday night and is now available on YouTube and iTunes. The theme is Edmontonia, and as always, it is full of terrific Edmonton stories and music.
— Speaking of Edmonton TV, check out this new web series, The People That Touch Your Food. You can find out more and even kick the creators some dough on their IndieGoGo page.
— June 24 was crazy for social-media-related events. Get a load of the Twitter chatter about Social Media Breakfast 7, featuring Adam Rozenhart on podcasting; What the Truck?!, the food truck festival organized by Mack Male and Sharon Yeo; and the birthday party for the Edmonton Girl Geek Dinner, put on by Brittney Le Blanc and Shauna McConechy (who is now a Torontonian!). I managed to hit all three, plus Trimalchio, a book club with a twist organized by Andy Grabia. Watch here for the fruits of our labours.
As always, check out Mastermaq’s Media Monday for more on the realm. You can comment below (now that I have re-enabled Disqus, having stupidly turned off my comments by accident when I changed Tumblr themes last week), or you can find me on Twitter.