Last week, The New York Times ran a story on the growth of reporter-written websites that cover local news -- you can read it here.
The New Haven Independent had a nice mention, on the cutting edge of the trend, along with online "newspapers" from Seattle, Minneapolis and St. Louis.
I'm always curious about the business model of these projects. [Full disclosure: in case you didn't know, the EYE is an entirely volunteer-written blog at this point.] When your website relies on shoe-leather reporting by paid professionals, there must be a sufficient income stream to keep the thing going, even though, according the story, running an "online only" news source has half of the costs of an ink and paper version. The websites named in the article run the spectrum from advertiser and subscriber-supported for-profit businesses to grant-funded non-profit organizations (more like a public radio channel). In the article, Buzz Woolley, one of the founders of VoiceofSanDiego.com, says he has become convinced that the nonprofit model has the best chance of survival.
“Information is now a public service as much as it’s a commodity,” he said. “It should be thought of the same way as education, health care. It’s one of the things you need to operate a civil society, and the market isn’t doing it very well.”
Food for thought.