Sunday, August 19, 2012

Yes, Virginia, Outsourcing Can Produce Responsible Hyperlocal Journalism

For more than six years now, I have been quietly (with the exception of a media explosion in 2007) refining a system for producing responsible hyperlocal journalism which is as cost-effective as hell.

My motivation is simple. I publish "Pasadena Now" (, a daily online community newsmagazine, and I need high-quality, low-cost local content to serve my readership base. We exist on a nanobudget.

I am convinced that my solution -- a system which combines local editorial control, the redefinition of some newsroom job descriptions, liberal doses of inexpensive new technology, and outsourced writing -- is an effective solution which, while it pares costs in a big way, at the same time fulfills the goals of genuine journalism.

By using my Journtent system, newspapers (both print and web) can get stories out quickly and accurately, save money and let reporters dig deeper and cover more ground.

The Journtent system assigns the most efficient labor to the task at hand during each stage of content conception, development, writing and editing, and works in a simple, seamless flow with a real-time dynamic that feels more like radio or local television news than newspaper reporting.

Above all, the Journtent system rests on this core belief:  Hyperlocal content must be locally planned and controlled. 

Local content must originate with local staff. Before it is published, it must checked by local staff.

It is simply inconceivable to me that any publisher or editor could possibly believe that writers in foreign countries understand the dynamics of communities thousands of miles distant.

That said, the Journtent system has proven daily for years that properly trained outsourced writers and researchers, when directed by local staff, can produce written content, backgrounders, and graphics which equal the work of local staff - but at much, much lower cost.

The Journtent system changes the daily work of most reporters because the system allocates the bulk of actual story-writing to outsourced writers. This results in freed-up time during which reporters can use their sources to uncover new information or to pursue new stories.  Reporters can work on more stories.

My system also leverages technology -- simple, everyday, mostly-smartphone technology.

Journtent is my hands-on solutions to the paradox of local news websites: These sites are expected to exceed the performance of local print newspapers by providing almost real-time coverage of hyperlocal news (with accuracy) -- but they must do so on a fraction of the budget enjoyed by their print competitors.

That is why I invented the Journtent system.

Simply put, Journtent empowers publishers to produce much more journalism for much less money.

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