The Local Edition What Kristen Hare has learned reporting on newsroom transformations across America By Rob Tornoe
f you’re working in or running a local newsroom, and you want to keep up with what other outlets are doing to transform in the digital age, you probably should be following Kristen Hare. Hare spent her first 10 years in journalism in local newsrooms, spending five years as a features writer for the Saint Joseph News-Press and another five as a staff writer at the St. Louis Beacon. These days, she is a reporter for Poynter Institute and has spent a little over a year covering the transformation of local news, both with traditional stories and a popular newsletter called Local Edition. “Specifically, I cover the transformation of local news from legacy into digital, with a sharp focus on sustainability,” Hare said. “It’s not just about transforming newsroom culture, but transforming business models and what journalists have to learn to stay relevant and be informed.” Hare spoke to E&P about the newsrooms she’s been most impressed by, the key to a successful events business and why its ultimately unsustainable to devalue local journalists. The conversation has been 24 |
E & P | JUNE 2018
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edited for length and clarity.
What are some projects out there that have piqued your interest? I’m really interested in the Malheur Enterprise, a 1,500-circulation weekly newspaper in Malheur, Ore. The editor is Les Zaitz, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist who retired from the Oregonian a few years ago. He, his wife and his brother bought it, and just earned one of the seven local ProPublica reporting grants. I emailed him and said I wanted to come visit you, and he was like, “Are you sure?” I love what Whereby.us is doing in Miami, Orlando, Portland and Seattle (See E&P’s story on Whereby.us on page 8). The business is part of the strategy, and they are partnering really beautifully with places. The New Tropic (Whereby.us’ news website in Miami) partnered with the local NPR affiliate WLRN when the hurricane came through last fall to help map places where you could volunteer, where people needed water and were people needed to be evacuated.
The Richland Source is an online forprofit in Ohio that’s doing really cool community journalism work. East Lansing Info is another online non-profit that’s doing watchdog work at the ground level. At all these places, I think you get the right mix of innovation, dedication to quality and a little bit of, “Let’s just try it and see what happens.”
You’ve written a number of pieces on media outlets turning to hosting events as a revenue stream. What are some of the takeaways from your reporting? I think the biggest key is you need to hire someone to run events for you. If you’re a newsroom, that’s great; you should be covering the news. If you want to have events, it’s another business entirely. If you wanted a revenue stream from printing a high quality publication, you wouldn’t go print that on your printer and pass it out to people and expect them to want to pay for it, would you? If you want to have a great events business, I think you need to work with people editorandpublisher.com
5/18/18 4:30 PM