The article is a summary of a research paper. To sum it up in a sentence: When papers are sold to corporate owners, the number of local articles can fall by 68%.
1. Acquisition leads to a significant, but not disproportional, decrease in the volume of local content produced by local newspapers;
2. Coverage of local places in the periods following acquisition is significantly more concentrated than coverage in the periods prior to acquisition;
3. Articles produced to be shared across regional hubs of newspapers are significantly less local—and discursively more national—than articles unique to a given newspaper.
This is the reason that we feature so many exciting new WordPress-based publishers on this site. Almost all of them are locally owned and operated. WordPress publishers are filling the gap left by old newspapers that are falling under corporate ownership.
Quartz is a WordPress publisher that is taking down their paywall. They’ve been going 10 years now and have gone through a few different business models. It looks like they’re moving to selling ads and also premium newsletters.
They now send out two premium newsletters per week and the cost is around $7 to $10 per month. Their pitch is “Our member-only newsletters give you concise analysis, forecasts, profiles, and advice in your inbox throughout the week”.
These are the two newsletters:
The Weekend Brief—offering analysis and insights on one big news item of the week, plus the best of Quartz.
The Forecast—a look at emerging industries and trends around the corner.
I got talking to a publisher in California this week: Moonshine Ink in California. They have been publishing for over 20 years. They’re currently WordPress-based, with a print edition. We chatted because they use the PublishPress Authors plugin that our team develop.
What particularly stood out to me with Moonshine Ink was the wonderful job they do of explaining of why their local news is worth supporting.
“Moonshine Ink serves the Truckee/North Tahoe region, a place of unimaginable beauty and inconceivably complex government. In our coverage area, there are two states, five counties (more or less), 19 special districts, and special cases, like the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. It’s a jurisdictional quagmire. Over the years, we’ve been the only media to “poke the bear” and investigate local government to the point where we really pissed people off. In my mind, this is a good thing.
If you’re in the New York area, you may have heard of Schneps Media or at least you’ve seen their publications.
Schneps run dozens of local newspapers and they’re standardized their digital versions on WordPress. Their sites focus on specific areas and communities in New York. They cover local neighborhood news, Spanish-language groups, LGBQT issues, Caribbean community, and now sports. Here’s the full list of papers.
A typical example site in the network is The Queens Courier. To run the network, they appear to have a custom plugin installed to allow them to publish centrally to all those sites via the WordPress REST API.
We started KinshiPress because high-quality journalism is really important, and almost all new, high-quality journalism uses WordPress. The Cardinal News is a great new example from Virginia that launched in early 2022.
They have a staff of five journalists, all of whom work remotely. The site is online-only and non-profit. They cover southwest Virginia, an area that is so rural that the writers struggle to get reliable internet at home.
The Cardinal News team are taking donations via WooCommerce and are off to a good start:
“The e-commerce channel has worked very well for us. People opt-in for our newsletter, and many donate small, monthly amounts,” said Rife. “We are surprised by how quickly The Cardinal News has become known throughout the state. Richmond has the second-largest number of our readers, and many say it’s because they are looking for different coverage.”