The Globe doesn’t intend to provide any original content. Rather, each hyperlocal site will serve as a guide to existing material. In the case of Newton, that means, among other things, stories from GateHouse Media’s Newton Tab.
This strikes me as hyperlocal journalism on the ultracheap. I understand the purpose: to come up with a more affordable advertising platform for local businesses. And I understand that the Globe is hurting financially; Adam Reilly of the Boston Phoenix detailed the latest round of cuts on Thursday.
But think of the value that Boston.com could add by hiring a mobile journalist to cover three or four towns, uploading blog posts, photos and videos throughout the day.
Tanowitz notes that there may be an intellectual-property issue that needs to be resolved, too. Indeed. Yes, the Globe could drive traffic to the Tab by publishing a headline, a summary and a link. But what if that’s all some readers are looking for, so they never follow the link? GateHouse publishes its content online under a Creative Commons license that allows for noncommercial re-use. But that certainly wouldn’t cover the Globe.
Financially challenged news organizations are exploring new ways to survive. My own sense is the ones that will pay off are those that aren’t solely about making money, but that provide a real service for readers as well. At least based on Tanowitz’s account, this sounds rather more cynical than that. But we’ll see. (Via Universal Hub.)