Worcester Sun hopes to compete with Telegram & Gazette

Looks like the GateHouse Media-owned Telegram & Gazette of Worcester is getting some competition. Mark Henderson, the T&G’s former online director, is starting a news organization called the Worcester Sun, an online-mostly project with a paid Sunday paper.

The Sun has a $150,000 Kickstarter campaign, a website, and a presence on Facebook and Twitter, all of which are linked in the press release below. Go Local Worcester posted a story about the Sun on Saturday.

Best of luck to Henderson and cofounder/managing editor/creative director Fred Hurlbrink Jr., like Henderson a former GateHouse journalist.

WORCESTER, Massachusetts — Worcester Media Partners is proud to announce the launch of the Worcester Sun, an impact community journalism enterprise comprising a unique combination of best-in-class digital offering with a paid Sunday print product.

These products will be supported by an intuitive business model that puts quality journalism, and more importantly the folks who produce and consume it, at the forefront by leveraging the modern media world’s best efficiencies in a sustainable package.

Worcester Sun can be found at its new home on the web: www.worcester.ma; also look for regular updates and announcements on Facebook and Twitter.

In order to build the type of journalism enterprise Worcester deserves, Worcester Media Partners recognizes the necessity of ambition. We have set our sights high, and we look forward to the continued support of our community. Please visit our Kickstarter page to learn more about the project and how folks can pledge their support to the future of local journalism in and around the Seven Hills.

Worcester Sun was conceived by Mark Henderson, a 30-year veteran of Worcester-area journalism, who most recently spent several years as the online director of the Telegram & Gazette. There, he marshalled a number of innovations that propelled telegram.com to rank in the top 10 nationally in 2013 in audience growth and subscriber volume.

“We believe that when the number of former journalists exceeds the number of working journalists there is an opportunity and a need for a new approach,” Henderson said.

“The Sun will be the first news startup in the nation to launch with a paid Sunday newspaper.  We recognize that this is a huge undertaking, but we believe the community is ready for this approach. In addition, over the long run we believe this model could work in as many as 100 cities nationwide.”

Henderson is joined by co-founder Fred Hurlbrink Jr., managing editor/creative director. The group is working with no less than a dozen advisors, many among the leaders in their field in New England, who have logged more than 200 years of community journalism experience.

Under the leadership of this impressive cadre of innovative, experienced journalism pros, and with the support of the area’s brightest reporters, photographers, designers and new media professionals, Worcester Sun intends to provide the community with impactful, civic-minded journalism that promotes intelligent conversations and positive change.

Worcester Sun will shine a light into the deepest corners of the topics and events that matter most to the city and its residents. We will cover stories with candor and perspective. We will never pander or underestimate our readers. We will hold public officials accountable. We will hold ourselves accountable doubly so.

Worcester Sun will change journalism in Worcester. It is, indeed, a new day.

4 thoughts on “Worcester Sun hopes to compete with Telegram & Gazette

  1. Ray Carbone

    This sounds like a great idea. I wish them the best. My question is simple and basic – can online products “prove” themselves to advertisers sufficiently to support the operaton? (I love the Sunday print version concept – I’m guessing it may be a compilation of best stories from the week online, with a strong new feature or two.)

    1. Mark Henderson

      Hello Ray,
      We believe the answer to your question is no, digital-only has not shown the ability to generate the advertising support necessary to support a news operation and we believe increased inventory will continue to apply downward pressure on digital ad pricing.
      Having said that, advertising surrounding content (advertising in the traditional sense) is just one part of the equation. We think there are other products and services media outlets can provide that will work better for readers and advertisers in the long run.
      Thanks for the kinds words about Sunday print, and your guess is correct.

      1. Dan Kennedy Post author

        @Mark: There are examples of digital-only local sites selling enough advertising to prosper (The Batavian is the one I know the most about), and they escape the downward pressure by selling screen space to local advertisers on a flat-rate basis. But supplementing digital with a weekly print product sounds like a great idea, and it will be very interesting to see how you do.

  2. Ray Carbone

    I met a man online a few years ago who owns the only local news source in a town upstate NY – he said he was doing great – as most business owners always say – but I never got to follow up with him and, alas, I’ve lost my contact info.
    Again, best wishes to Mark and his team – and thanks to you, Dan, for spreading the word.

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