As we celebrate our third anniversary online this month, DavidsonNews.net is continuing to explore new ways of doing business in the online local news world. Today, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve joined a regional reporting experiment in partnership with The Charlotte Observer and four other local news websites around Charlotte.
The 1-year partnership is part of a nationwide experiment in online “hyperlocal news” – news at the neighborhood or town level. It’s being funded by a grant from J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism.
In practical terms, the partnership means that each partner and The Observer will share stories and photos with one another, and explore ways to cover stories together.
The grant pays for The Observer’s costs in setting up and managing the program, and also provides a small payment to each partner. That’s welcome income for news sites like ours still in the start-up stages (though it does not begin to cover our costs – as always, we hope you’ll consider becoming a paying subscriber. Learn more on our “Support Us” page).
The partners include:
- DavidsonNews.net, which has been reporting local news in Davidson since December 2006. More about us here.
- Qcitymetro.com, founded by former Charlotte Observer deputy managing editor Glenn Burkins to provide news and information specific to Charlotte’s African American community.
- The Scoop Network of sites – ballantynescoop.com, monroescoop.com, indiantrailscoop.com and westernunioncountyscoop.com – run by longtime Union County resident Steve Sherron and marketing expert Caroline Adams.
- TegaCayTalk.com, started by Tega Cay, S.C., resident and graphic designer Ben Ullman to keep his neighbors abreast of civic developments.
- The Villa Heights Voice, the newsletter of the Villa Heights Community Organization in east Charlotte. The Observer will help the group’s staff transition its newsletter to the Web and expand its reach.
The partnership’s goal is to help ensure that readers receive news at a hyper-local level. The partners plan to share a limited number of stories each week as well as website links.
Over the past 3 years as founder and editor of DavidsonNews.net, I’ve been enjoying the rewards and challenges of bringing community news and information to the Internet in a form that’s useful and engaging for readers. It’s gratifying to hear neighbors talking about information we’ve published or how the site has touched them. And I look forward to working with my former colleagues at The Observer and at the other sites to help continue to forge a new way of delivering local news.
As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, we have been growing step by step over the past few years. We’re still a combination of paid staff and volunteers (alas, your editor is still the chief volunteer). But we see great promise in our business. Says publisher Cristina Shaul: “We are looking forward to partnering with The Charlotte Observer so we can give our Davidson readers some broader news coverage, and also networking with other folks like ourselves, to learn more about how to make this a sustainable business.”
Charlotte Observer Executive Editor Rick Thames says the partnership focuses on local news because it’s important to readers. “Readers treasure local news because it’s the news that touches them personally. And the more local, the better. We think partnerships like these could be key to providing readers more of that very valuable news. If so, that will be good for our communities and good for the future of journalism.”
The grant through J-Lab, which is based at American University in Washington, D.C., was funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Other newspapers participating in the grant include The Seattle Times, The Miami Herald and the Asheville Citizen-Times.