As local print, radio and television news divisions struggle to stay afloat, online community news sites are increasingly filling the gaps left by traditional news outlets. But, do these hyper-local, online startups offer a sustainable business model different from their traditional counterparts?
The USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy (CCLP) seeks to answer that question with the publication of a new case study on the challenges facing the Long Beach Post, an online news website launched in 2006.
,is authored by CCLP Executive-in Residence Jeffrey S. Klein (pictured left) and Research Associate María J. Vázquez, tracks the progress of entrepreneurs Shaun Lumachi and Robert Garcia in launching their new media website.
“The accessibility of the internet and inexpensive technology have combined to lower the barriers to entry, allowing many budding entrepreneurs to launch new efforts to try to satisfy local information needs,” explains Jeffrey Klein, a former top executive at the Los Angeles Times and Times Mirror. “But it is still very unclear whether these new ‘businesses’ will survive.”
When Lumachi and co-founder Robert Garcia initially developed the idea of their new online community newspaper, they saw it as a “community service.” It was only after the web site was up and running that they realized it was also a business that had to generate a profit if it was to survive and thrive long term.
“The story of the Long Beach Post, a community news site that has survived for four years, can teach valuable lessons about the typical obstacles that entrepreneurs running these ventures face, what it takes to build a sustainable revenue model and what can be learned from the best practices of others trying to develop a sustainable business,” write Klein and Vázquez in the CCLP report.
In addition to offering valuable insight for other new media entrepreneurs, the case study includes a teaching guide for journalism professors and high school teachers to teach students about the challenges facing journalism entrepreneurs.
For videos and other multimedia content gathered for this case study, click here.