This week we’ve combined our inspiring models for college media series and College Media Lab, featuring Technically Philly and News Inkubator. Listen to or download the podcast at the end of the post.
Hey college news, it’s your older brother: hyperlocal.
We’re not so different, you and I. We’re both industries dominated by the inexperienced. We both have to cover a specific community. In fact, it could be argued that collegiate journalism is a subset of hyperlocal.
Fortunately for you this means that we all share the same problems. Both college newspapers and hyperlocal sites are figuring out the best ways to monetize a geographic area of like-minded people, often through the Web.
Thanks to Jeff Jarvis and the folks at CUNY, we know that some hyperlocal sites are pulling in $200,000 a year. We also know of some college newspapers that are self-sustaining. There are successful companies in both our spaces, yet many of us struggle to grasp the fundamentals of the business.
That is why the team behind Technically Philly has proposed News Inkubator, a shared office spaces and business services hub for hyperlocal news sites in Philadelphia. Picture a shared office space and a shared sales staff that help hyperlocals generate revenue ideas together, while still maintaining their editorial and business independence.
News Inkubator is also about bridging the entrepreneurial and media communities in Philadelphia to help foster a working relationship were each side learns from the other. All of these concepts can translate to benefit your college publication. In fact, here are three of our ideas that I hope you steal:
Use the existing bureaucracy
Universities have already separated students by interest. The computer science students often belong to a different school than the business students that belong to a different school than the journalism students. Why not bring all three of these sides together?
Each can have a project for the semester and learn from the other students. To survive in 2010, journalism grads are going to need to know how businesses work. Business grads are going to have to understand new media and computer science students need client work to showcase when they graduate.
If time becomes an issue, lobby to create a new class. Department heads love to show each other how innovative they are, so ask them to help.
The space is cheap
Many college newspapers rent (or are given) office space from the university negating one of the biggest hurdles in legitimizing an online hyperlocal entity. Use this to your advantage. Host speakers that are business leaders from local companies. You could even spring for some pizza and host a hackathon or barcamp open to all majors and career paths to build products for the paper.
Spoke, meet hub
Many college have student-run blogs or organization websites. Aggregate and create content partnerships with everyone who also covers what you cover. There is no need for overlap in your college’s media market.
As the college newspaper, you have an established editorial process and revenue streams, so offer to be the hub for your local sites and maybe even work out a revenue sharing plan. It will be good training for covering any niche after you graduate and can free up your paper’s already limited resources to pursue more in-depth journalism and even work on new revenue models together.
The three founders of Technically Philly met at the Temple News, and we use the skills we learned there everyday. Use your time at a college newspaper to not only flex your reporting muscles but also see if you can start a side project that makes a little more money for the paper. Your wallet will thank you when you graduate.
Be sure to give our application a read and offer any criticism. The harsher, the better.
Contact Sean Blanda at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter, @seanblanda.