By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

With Gannett in retreat, could Patch step up? Or how about the TAPinto model?

I’m not going to keep doing this, but it’s only Week 2 of The Transcript & Journal. My capacity for outrage hasn’t faded away yet. So here it is.

The T&J, owned by the Gannett chain, is sent to people in Medford and Somerville who previously subscribed to the Medford Transcript or the Somerville Journal. There’s not a single Medford-specific story on the front, and the story about rats only glancingly mentions Somerville. The inside consists of press releases, a story about a dog park in Billerica, a report from State House News Service and an obit from Cambridge. Nothing on the mayor’s office, the city council, the school committee or the police department — not even a civil-rights complaint filed against the police several weeks ago, which even Patch managed to write up.

It would be amazing if Patch saw this as an opportunity to go back to its old formula, at least in some communities — one full-time journalist and a modest freelance budget. I doubt that’s going to happen, though. They seem happy with their current, profitable model in which one person produces content for multiple cities and towns. But who knows? I thought this was pretty encouraging:

I’d also love it if someone wanted to start a TAPinto site in Medford. TAPinto is a franchise model that allows entrepreneurs to get up and running very quickly with a local news site. Ellen Clegg and I recently interviewed TAPinto founder and CEO Michael Shapiro on the “What Works” podcast. If anyone wanted to start such a project here, I’d be happy to make introductions.

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  1. Many in the hyperlocal web-new world do not agree with me, but since September 2021, YourArlington has had a partnership with Arlington Patch. We publish each orthers stories with credit. That way, Patch can publish our reports about Town Meeting, Select Board, School Committee and Housing Authority in the absense of its own reporter. We have found it mutually beneficial.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Seems like a good idea. But what that really speaks to is the need for a project like YourArlington. Without it, Patch would have nothing.

      • Other members of LION say that Patch will “cannibalize” YA, but I have not seen that happen. I will add that YA gets some revenue based on traffic, and YA does not have to pay Patch.

    • Dan Kennedy

      The incentives for a nonprofit are different from those of a for-profit. (Then again, LION is two-thirds nonprofit.) Funders want to know what kind of impact they had, so republication is generally something that they like. I hope Patch is giving you some numbers that you can tout to prospective donors.

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