Professional Journalist For-profit Sites
Former CBS producer and correspondent Gordon Joseloff launched WestportNow to be a source of professionally produced “real-time news” for an affluent Connecticut town of 26,000 that gets no consistent coverage, he said, between the deadline dates of two local weeklies. Joseloff, a Westport native, defines WestportNow as “a web site edited by professionals with the aid of non-professionals,” including a volunteer photographer who shoots the old-home “Teardown of the Day” and has learned to report. “It’s run like a professional news organization with stringers” who are citizens, he said. He was the site’s original reporter/editor; he hired a staff reporter/editor after he was elected to an office equivalent to mayor of Westport.
The front page is filled mostly with staff-produced short, newsy posts and daily photos, which constitute the bulk of citizen contributions. More than a dozen contributors posted pictures from a Memorial Day parade.
Joseloff wants to “replicate WestportNow in other similarly demographically impressive communities and find someone like me who will edit it professionally and wants to make a business of it.” But first he needs to move the site into the black; this year he hired its first ad salesperson on commission.
Jonathan Weber, former editor of The Industry Standard, launched New West as a regional publication with local hub sites across the Rocky Mountain region. The web site was phase one of a new media company that has moved into custom publishing and indoor advertising. Weber has plans for New West to publish books and magazines and host conferences devoted to environmental and other issues in a region where, he said, media are “underdeveloped.”
With an investment of less than $1 million from angel investors, New West has a staff of two regional editors and part-time editors in 11 locales who solicit pieces from contract writers and do their own writing, which blends reporting with commentary. Weber is disappointed that few citizens are contributing pieces to New West‘s “Unfiltered” section. He speculated that the professional quality of writing and reporting on the site “serves as a deterrent” to amateurs. Photo contributions are “stronger than writing,” he said.
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