Topix Growing Steadily Since Relaunch

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I got my first chance yesterday to speak with Chris Tolles, the new CEO of Topix. Chris, who has been there since the beginning, is now charged with making the site profitable and executing on a longer-term strategy that takes Topix further in the direction it is now going.

While from the outside, turning Topix into a “citizen journalism” and community site or local news blogging site (or whatever terms we want to use) may have seemed risky, it was logical given the site’s local orientation and the background of the founders (who founded the Open Directory Project).

According to the information and data Chris conveyed, the site is doing very well since the relaunch (in April):

  • 2K are now working in some capacity as local editors
  • The comments on the site have doubled to 60K

Amazingly, Chris told me that 61% of Topix’s traffic comes from outside the top MSAs. This means that it has local reach that is otherwise unduplicated by other local  content and search sites. Accordingly, the site now sees an ad opportunity that it hasn’t capitalized on to date (it relies almost exclusively on AdSense). In the future Topix will be doing more of its own ad sales.

Topix’s newspaper owners have largely failed to tap Topix as a resource, although the site is now powering the comments functionality on all the Tribune papers, save the LA Times. It’s also behind local news on CNN’s site and on My AOL.

Perhaps the community strategy and appeal is what stands out here. The fact that Topix flipped its model from a news aggregator with comments to a local news blogging site is based on the community traction that the site had. It’s crazy that local newspaper sites have not, by and large, been able to independently generate this kind of momentum or community enthusiasm — though now virtually all newspaper sites have community.

2 Responses to “Topix Growing Steadily Since Relaunch”

  1. Tim Jones Says:

    I’m not sure how you define Topix as a “local news blogging site”. You can certainly comment on articles or start a new forum topic, but I don’t see many people writing original content and submitting it to Topix.

    Since many newspapers also allow comments on stories (though perhaps not new forum topics), I don’t see the distinction in saying Topix is a “community site” while newspapers are not. It seems that both primarily engage readers to comment on news stories.

  2. Shirley Moore Says:

    I am requesting permission to repost this article on our town site? Im sure our people would be interested to know this info.

    Thank you,

    S Moore

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