Gazetteer San Francisco is a New WordPress Publisher Ignoring Social and SEO

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen several interesting new publishers who have launched with the help of Lede.

Lede is an offshoot from a WordPress agency called Alley Interactive. They aim to be both a platform and a business incubator. They’ve helped launch several projects with unique approaches to publishing and business. We’ve previously covered Block Club Chicago and Defector.

Now Lede has helped launch Gazetteer San Francisco. This new publisher focuses on local news in San Francisco and has a radically different approach to business. It’s worth reading their About Us page in full to understand their strategy. Here’s a key quote:

“The information ecosystem dominated by the biggest companies in the world is not benefiting news publishers, despite them being the main contributors of original and truthful information. We propose to combat this phenomenon with a local news venture that radically rejects platforms for distribution and monetization.

What is their solution? Gazetteer will only be available to members:

We publish our stories on a totally paywalled website and send them to paid subscribers by email and text message. We have no social media, no apps, and we don’t care about search engine optimization.”

Gazetteer is a commercial business and charges $77 per year for membership. They have plans to expand nationwide but are starting in San Francisco. BizJournals has an article on Byron Perry, who is the founder of Gazetteer.

I admit I don’t understand all aspects of their strategy. A good number of posts seem to be free to read on The topics covered seem unclear, including at least one post which seems to be a culture-war rant. And at least one Gazetteer journalist is actively promoting stories on social media.

The website uses headless WordPress and has a very minimal design. It certainly doesn’t look like a traditional newspaper website. The posts have no images and seem to be designed for easy sharing via text message.

Gazetteer website

I’ll be really curious to see if Gazetteer gets any traction. In addition to ignoring SEO and social, they also seem to be ignoring some key strategies that are working for new publishers. We sum these up in our article on “Kinship Publishers“. For example, I don’t see any effort to build community. Nor do I see that their coverage is tightly focused.

Some publishers such as The Information do paywall all their content and thrive because of the quality of their content. I’ve seen people share articles from The Information together with a recommendation to subscribe because the content is so good. But this is a very different approach from most new publishers who lean into collaboration and content sharing. I recently wrote about how publishers are learning to love Creative Commons for their content.

About the Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *