Local news creators have long had odd relationships with aggregators, who live off other people’s content but can drive some traffic back to the creators. The tension has often been framed as “local” versus “big national” companies.
But Buck Lawrimore, a longtime marketer in the Charlotte area, shows that the local versus national frame isn’t always valid. He has created Charlotte Area News, with some pages marked for niche local coverage at some point. Revenue appears to depend only on Google Ads, and content depends only on established media sources, available elsewhere.
The barriers to entry into this space are low: RSS feeds and freely available tools make setting up such a site fairly easy. In that respect, sites with successful business models will add value that no one else can: proper curation, care and feeding.
As one of the speakers at a news entrepreneur bootcamp at the Knight Digital Media Center said: After you create your business idea, build a moat. Your low barriers of entry will also be low barriers for competitors. Added value will ensure business success.
It’ll be interesting to watch the next moves in this space, and I’d love to see examples of other local sites across the country that do the same as Lawrimore’s. The Digitel in Charleston, a blended aggregator/creator, is on my radar. Also Chattarati, in Chattanooga, Tenn., from the ground up. Anyone else? Didn’t Asheville have an automated aggregator at one point? Is it still around?