Well, the Good News is that Mission Loc@l has been nominated for a Webby and you can vote here in the People’s Voice award.

The Bad News: No one has yet written a check after reading my comment on a NYTimes piece about hyperlocal news aggregators. In short, I said we at Mission Loc@l could do a lot with a $1 million. Mmm.

I know somewhere in San Francisco there is a funder with a checkbook and the vision to see that the J-School and Mission Loc@l just might figure out a new business model.

Why, oh why do donors find it difficult to write checks for the unsexy but so necessary business of gathering news? I’m not talking about funding gadgets or widgets, but reporters—the folks who are out knocking on doors, talking to police, and sitting through endless city government and community meetings.

Mission Local stencil.

Remember them? The men and women who create the content for Google, EveryBlock, Yahoo (and so many others). Those reporters—even on a hyperlocal site— also develop investigative pieces, beautifully written narratives and enterprise packages.

So, what would I do with all that dough? Let me fantasize.

Instead of sharing our office with a landscape firm that left behind a lot of garden statuary, I would rent the whole space—all 700 square feet of it.

Cost for a two-year lease @ $1600 a month = $38,400.

Four full-time reporting fellows @ $60,000 a year.

One full-time business fellow to work nonstop on finding a sustainable business model for hyperlocals @ $60,000 a year.

One full-time bilingual fellow to translate and report for Mission Loc@l’s Spanish-language site @ $60,000 a year.

Roll in the costs of the university giving these six hires health insurance and I’ve spent about $420,000. Add in the two-year lease, some equipment and toilet paper and I’ve spent half a million dollars.

And where would the other half million go? The J-School would set up another hyper-local spot in the city and I’m not saying where—not unless you’re willing to write a check.

Lydia
Meet two Mission Loc@l reporters below. We’re trying everything to get more readers in the Mission District to go to our online news site, so in March we distributed 5,000 copies of Mission Loc@l in English and 5,000 in Spanish.

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Founder/Executive Editor. I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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  1. Please curb your entitlement. If the world doesn’t value reporters like yourself, then the world doesn’t value reporters like yourself. Your mission is no less holy than any of ours.

    1. Steven: Thank you for your comment. You’re right. There are many worthy ventures to fund. This just happens to be one I believe in. Best, Lydia