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The death of local news has been deemed a threat to democracy. And if no journalists were scrutinizing the Mayor, informing the public ahead of an election or sharing news on what is going on in a city or community, that would hurt democracy.
But that doesn’t mean that the death of local newspapers is a threat to democracy. Not if something new takes their place.
That is what is happening now, local news is making a comeback. Now when you don’t have to invest in a huge printing press and not distribute tons of paper every morning, the opportunity is bigger than ever before.
Capital Daily now has 50,000 subscribers in a city of about 400,000 people.
He is now expanding, and now they have announced that Overstory Media Group (OMG) aims to launch in 50 cities and hire 250 journalists and creators by 2023.
I talked to the co-founder and CEO, Farhan Mohamed, about the launch.
Newsletters are still the product. It is a simple and good way to deliver the content of your choice. It’s not an algorithm trying to interpret what you want, or that the company behind the algorithm wants you to see.
If someone in Sweden, or Japan, or Australia wants to start a newsletter, can they reach out to you and be part of OMG?
“Yes. Any place in the world where there is a community to serve, you can start a newsletter, and we are interested in talking to you about it.”
Is this only for large cities?
“No, actually it might be harder to start a newsletter in a large city. In large cities, there will be news that concerns everyone living in it but what we've found is that people care about what's happening in their backyard and what directly impacts their daily lives. In big cities, there are many pocket communities that each have their own unique stories to tell.”
In how small of cities can you operate a newsletter?
“They could be pretty small, maybe as small as 25,000 to 30,000 people.”
If someone reading this wants to start a newsletter in their city together with you, what do they do?
“They can just send me an email and we’ll set up call.”
The newsletters are of course not going to be identical, they have to be adapted to the local community, but OMG now has experience in launching several newsletters. They already operate ten brands and have developed a playbook.
The revenue model will also be different based on local conditions, but will be a mix of for example subscriptions, ads and events.
Local news is one of many examples of unwanted pessimism.
People see newspapers going under, and for some reason stop their brain activity there.
Local newspapers are dying = no local journalism = threat to democracy.
Why wouldn’t something new appear in their place?
If the reason were that people had lost interest in local news, that would be a concern. But it is super obvious that it is the old business model of local newspapers that is not working anymore. People are still very much interested in what is going on where they live.
Now you can be part of creating the new version of local news. That most people think that local news is a dying business is an opportunity. In most cities there is no competition, except an old dying newspaper.
That is what we call the Optimist’s Edge.
The edge you get when you look at facts and opportunities, instead of getting fooled by pessimism.
If you want to get in touch with OMG and Farhan Mohamed, send me an email at mathias.sundin at warpinstitute com and I’ll connect you, or check out this on their website.