San Diego and the Future of Local News

Forbes alerted me to the San Diego News Network, which is rising as the San Diego Union Tribune is going down:

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Here are the stats according to the Forbes article:

SDNN is running a budget of about $1 million, which allows him to employ 16 full timers (some are former Union-Tribune staffers), aided by 23 freelancers and 12 bloggers. His site draws an average 125,000 monthly visitors, according to Quantcast.

This is probably what is going to happen in many major markets as the metro print pubs falter: small online only sites that look very much like the larger news sites will arise, employing a few journalists and other freelancers. They will have to be knit into larger local ad networks and/or charge for some content to survive.

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Related: The NY Times is seeing huge usage in mobile (video), both from its iPhone app and the mobile Web more generally.

See also: MediaNews Group Starting Test of Home-Printed News

3 Responses to “San Diego and the Future of Local News”

  1. ryankuder Says:

    I just don’t see how this editorial model meshed with an ad model scales. Also according to Quantcast, they’re doing 320k pvs. If they can get an eCPM of $10 (also high?), that’s only $3,200 per month or less than $40k per year. Even if they can find a way to make a ridiculous $30 eCPM, that’s still only $120k per year. I may be bad at math and would love to see some numbers that show how this works.

    They had a good looking curve going at the start, but it looks like it’s flattened recently. I question whether the ad model will be able to hold up here to make sites like this sustainable. They just seem to be too expensive to operate at the local level. What am I missing?

  2. Phil Harding Says:

    What about the National News “Aggregators”, like Topix and the Examiner? They have the scale with about 4MM uniques per month each. So, if they average 3 PV’s per Unique that is 12MM. At $5 eCPM that is $60k per month. The question is can they attract a local audience ( i suspect the Examiner has a better chance with local writers) and local ad dollars versus full ad networks. Also, they will need to expand their partnerships into verticals.

  3. Greg Sterling Says:

    Ryan:

    I agree that absent scale and/or a very tightly controlled cost structure making money is a problem. Phil: agree with your point re scale. Examiner is very interesting, much of the local content is mediocre but that may not matter.

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