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December 28 2010


AOL Patch in Cleveland: Elephants, Mercenaries, and Crossing the Alps

Buy the People and Force the People or By the People and for the People?

Here we are at the end of another year. For me, 2010 passed by like a closed rest step on the side of the highway when you really need a place to pull over and stretch your legs and contemplate the next stretch of your journey. There is good news, though, fellow journalists.

The front lines (and the guerrilla war behind enemy lines) are both going well as people begin to wrestle power from the corporate Overlords.....Wait. It’s the end of 2010. That stage is past. Good things are about to happen, however, as Cleveland Free Press starts up.

Crossing AlpsCrossing Alps
Websites as War Elephants

I’m done with playing angry young journalist, and I’ve been quietly working on solutions. The focus has been money for just over a year and the results have been pretty good. From toys to military photos to televisions to robots, it’s all about niche content.

Newspapers and other big media companies should be putting these out a lot more. Hire more writers. Hire more photographers. And so on. While the History of Televisions or Toys Timeline websites aren't ground-breaking journalism by any means, they do make profit with little investment.

There are some of us starting to plan the stages of hiring mercenaries - barbarians or merely content creators the “real” journalists call them. Although if you look at what AOL Patch is doing - they’re hiring (you can’t really call it that at the rates they pay) citizens to produce the “news.”

Quick story. I was dealing with the “press room” at Mitsubishi the other day about why they don’t think online journalists are worthy of their valuable information. I never got a real name from them. Just some sort of “desk” that I was emailing back and forth with. In the back of my mind, I could picture their laughter and mocking tone.

Instead of angry young journalist anger, I simply said, “Cool, the public will be okay without your information, I’m sure.”

I still don’t know what the problem was. I gave examples of “real” journalism. Just because I no longer dabble in print (at the moment), I’m no longer a genuine journalist? Who among you has taken a test or passed some sort of necessary certification? J-school?

Anyway, the point is that the future of media is looking bright. Even with AOL Patch trying to invade the Cleveland, Ohio area. In fact, that makes the next stage of my journey a little more exciting and important in a few ways.

As I head to Northern Ohio, I have already begun to gather allies that want to help save journalism - for the people. As the United States heads toward 2011, I am more excited than ever before about the prospects for grassroots journalism - for a better media in this country.

Grassroots JournalismGrassroots JournalismGrassroots Journalism in 2011

Throughout history, the best journalists come from many different fields, bringing many different viewpoints and opinions to the craft, the duty of Journalism. Here I go - big speeches with still very little to show, but if you must know, I am perhaps keeping silent on purpose. I like to give updates here and there - notes for the book scattered on the web - so here we are.

The year of Our Lord 2011 is almost here and things are continuing to improve. As I mentioned, the niche sites are taking off. This is with no overhead, no daily staff (yet), but raw determination and a ragtag band of new media rebels out there working the grind - ALL THE TIME. From toys to televisions to health to robots, I have spent time building up content online.

The equation for success? The Internet + Hard Work / Over Time = $ and of course the profit does not come easy or simple, but there is a very obvious model once you look. The thing I don’t understand is the waste at the large corporations. If I had a fraction of the resources, I can’t imagine what I would be able to do - perhaps even storming the gates of Rome herself to topple once and for all the media old guard.

(Is Gannett Rome? Or is it the whole current system of media ownership?)

Don’t get me wrong. Journalism is still going to be important, but hopefully all the really talented journalists WILL BE WORKING FOR THEMSELVES. Massive amount of mini-collectives - working together. All it takes is one man to step forward and begin to put the pieces in place. The lean years of learning are just about over.

The plan, the route, the plan of attack has been committed to memory and destroyed lest too much information is leaked to those in the Glass Towers reading spreadsheets and drinking coffee, wondering how they got caught up in the corporate Death Star culture that was so much like high school.

That’s not to say there aren’t great newspapers and media outlets still out there - big ones even - but the nation - the United States of America, I must sadly say, is chock full of mediocre, half-ass newspapers running on auto-pilot. The small and medium-sized print dailies are cash cows used to perpetuate the madness of the modern media machine. And don’t get me started on lame attempts like AOL Patch are NOT shining beacons that are going to save journalism.

Some of the elephants (websites) I have with me may be lost trudging over the Alps, but the element of surprise is crucial to be able to effectively begin to dismantle the broken media outlets in this country. Perhaps not every journalist and person with a mission (or a passion) will work for themselves in the years to come, but many more are going to and they are going to need (or want) information from someone who has been in the trenches doing it for over half a decade.

I’m tired. Really. Exhausted. I work too much. My Oma worries about me, but I trudge forward, against the cold winds, knowing that crossing the Alps may be the only way.

The lessons learned in the medium sized markets in the Midwest will be very helpful moving into larger cities. The momentum is building. The networks are coming together and merging.

The clouds are forming, the storm is gathering, the people are typing and the words will always be there in one form or another.

Saving JournalismSaving JournalismAOL Patch in Cleveland? Hannibal on the Move?

If you haven’t heard by now, AOL Patch is trying to move into the Cleveland area in a big way. They have already started. To me, this is not good news or bad news really. It means there’s never been a better time maybe to return to my city, bringing the knowledge I’ve gained over the years.

AOL Patch - in my opinion - is BUY THE PEOPLE, FORCE THE PEOPLE rather than By the People and for the People. The two are close, of course, but the former is not going to be good for the people of the greater Cleveland area.

Cleveland.com (Plain Dealer, Sun News and others), AOL Patch, the Lakewood Observer and many, many others are in Cleveland now, some even doing really great things - the Lakewood Observer and the The Chubby Cook for example. In my mind, however, there’s never been a better time to join the fray and stake out my claim - for the people of the greater Cleveland, Ohio area.

While Anderson Free Press is still not where she should be at this time, I have decided to set my sights on a larger city to see if I can take the successful model I have in Indiana and transplant it to Cleveland, Ohio via Cleveland Free Press.

Is it a wise move? Wouldn’t Indianapolis, Indiana make more sense? After setting up Cleveland Free Press the weekend of 12/3/2010 and promoting it for a few weeks, the results are very positive. I have come into contact with friends old and new who are willing and able to help with Cleveland Free Press.

How does this differ from AOL Patch? For one, it’s bottom-up instead of top-down. The big media companies ARE the problem. There’s a solution that I’ll share in the years ahead, but for now know that big media ownership is why AOL Patch in Cleveland, Ohio and many other areas is going to fail - in a big way. (Akron anybody? McLean, VA? EveryBlock/MSNBC?)

Of course, some of the smaller players (like me) have failed in big and small ways over the last four or five years, but lessons are being learned. I still don’t claim to have all the answers, but I’ve learned that it is possible to create something online - a living, breathing community.

Once I can prove that my “model” for grassroots journalism can be transplanted from one location (two small cities in Indiana) to another (one large city in Ohio), things are really going to start moving more quickly.

So far, results have been very, very positive - even from a remote location. This will be a cash strapped attempt at starting something up in a large city, but I ask everyone out there to consider the resources AOL has when comparing their efforts with mine in 2011. By Q3 or Q4 2011, things should be really interesting.

For now, take a look at Cleveland Free Press - if you have friends, family, or even enemies in Northern Ohio, please pass on word about the site.

I’m going to try to contribute more to NewAssignment.net in 2011.

Remember, the future is online and non-linear.

Until next time,
keep up the good fight,
K. Paul Mallasch - Publisher

August 12 2010


Newsday hiring to increase coverage after competition arrives

According to a post by LostRemote, Melville-based newspaper Newsday is expanding its news team across print and online, following the launch of AOL’s hyperlocal websites project, Patch.

The publication is reportedly advertising for 37 news positions to boost its local coverage both on and offline. Posts are said to include reporters, community journalists, a social media moderator and a community editor.

Newsday is the first newspaper we’ve seen aggressively ramp up coverage as the local competition intensifies. One interesting thing to watch: Newsday.com is subscription-only — subscribers of the newspaper and Optimum Online are given access — which could put it at a disadvantage in building open community tools that can reach critical mass.

See the full post here…Similar Posts:

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