Jeecamp is an ‘unconference’ gathering 50+ new media entrepreneurs and regional online journalists under the un-guidance of Paul Bradshaw . Stand by for a day of innovative insight in to the business of making online journalism pay. I feel it is entirely appropiate that we are here at The Bond next to the famous Birmingham canal system. It is the perfect metaphor for how communications systems change. [Live blogging by Paul’s students here.]
Rick Waghorn kicks off (he runs a sports website franchise) by booting a few business models, such as subscription (“no-one wants to pay for stuff online”) in to touch. He shows how he is “2 inches wide, one mile deep”. In other words, don’t compete with blogs about Britney, go hyperlocal. And local is not just geographical. It is about specific subjects and little communities that are not served by mainstream media. He cites as an opportunity the up and coming Milton Keynes football team which is only covered by a weekly newspaper. You then build revenue by turning all your local contacts into potential advertisers. He has even come up with an application that lets local businesses can put small text adverts on his sites directly and at low cost – just as we used to put adverts in newsagent’s windows. It’s kind of the long tail – “national in scope but local in focus”.
But what about the Big Beasts? As the BBC, national newspapers and everyone else starts working downwards through the online journalism food chain, won’t they squeeze the independents out? Rick seems to feel that there is enough space left as regional and local papers shrink. He thinks there are still gaps in the jig-saw of media ownership. He thinks the Indies can aim to be the missing pieces in the puzzle of multi-platform news. And until Google has an ad rep in every town, he thinks there are enough people who want a local shopwindow.
As an online entrepreneur you help boost your slim local revenue by building franchises that link the little bits together, hence Waghorn’s myfootballwriter. It provides a ready-made website pack for budding micro-sports news journalists. His latest version of this is mylocalwriter.
Live un-conference blog here.�