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

Are you a news publisher? A budding enterpreneur? Please come to Medford.

Are you an independent newspaper publisher? A budding entrepreneur? I’d like to point you to a great opportunity. Medford, a city of about 62,000 just a few miles north of Boston, has been without any reliable news coverage since March 2022, when the giant chain newspaper owner Gannett merged the Medford Transcript and the Somerville Journal. The new paper, the Transcript & Journal, is devoted almost entirely to regional news, with little in the way of what’s taking place in local government, public safety, schools or youth sports.

Medford is a relatively affluent community. We’re not as well off as Marblehead, Concord, Lexington, Newton or Brookline, where nonprofit startups have been launched or are in the process of being launched in response to Gannett’s cuts. But we have a lot going for us. Medford’s median household income of nearly $108,000 is higher than the state’s ($89,000). We have five business districts with restaurants and retail establishments. We are also at least somewhat diverse — although nearly 71% of Medford residents are white, there also are Black (8.4%), Asian (10.6%) and Hispanic/Latino (8.4%) residents as well. (Income and demographic data come from the U.S. Census Bureau.)

In 2020 I wrote about some ideas for how to bring reliable news to Medford — anything from a for-profit newspaper to a nonprofit website. There are conversations taking place about attempting to start a nonprofit, but I can’t help but think that Medford would be a great place for a for-profit venture.

One for-profit model I especially like is a free weekly print newspaper, distributed at high-traffic locations throughout the city, with a free website. Anne Eisenmenger has had great success with that model with four papers in Southeastern Massachusetts.

Another model is a subscription-based venture combining online and print. There are a number of examples, but one particularly vibrant outlet is The Provincetown Independent, begun several years ago by the husband-and-wife team of Ed Miller and Teresa Parker. The Independent also has a nonprofit arm that funds certain types of public interest journalism.

If you have any interest in setting up shop in Medford, I would be happy to connect you with people in the city and with people like Anne, Ed and Teresa. Feel free share this widely. Medford is a wonderful community with a lot of news, most of which isn’t being covered. And it’s got the economic base needed to build a news business. Please come to Medford.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the shout out, Dan. We do think that the hybrid for-profit and nonprofit business plan we created is working. It was a hassle to set up, but it’s paying off now. The advertising business part of the Independent is on track to produce close to $1 million in revenue this year, while the nonprofit Local Journalism Project is raising over $200,000 a year to support our work. We are happy to show the numbers and our business plan to anyone who is serious about starting a newspaper in Medford.

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