Live from the ONA conference in Toronto…
A coalition of small, niche community publications can become a premier source of news in Minnesota, says Jeremy Iggers, director of of the Twin Cities Media Alliance at TCDailyPlanet.com.
The Twin Cities Daily Planet –inspired by OhMyNews — “is conceived as an experiment in participatory journalism, built on a partnership between professional journalists and individual citizens. One goal of the Daily Planet is to harness that community intelligence and enable individuals to share information and work together for the common good. [More here.]”
The Planet partners with other small, niche media outlets to cover Minnesota — specifically areas they feel are underserved by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Iggers labeled his former employer, the Star-Tribune, as “the newspaper of the most desirable zip codes” for its giving coverage priority to affluent neighborhoods.
Currently, TCDailyPlanet is receiving an assortment of grants, including a Knight-Batten award and a grant from the McCormick-Tribune foundation. They also plan to hand out small amounts of funds –in $50 to $100 amounts– to assist some of its partner publications in publishing stories that have a broad appeal.
But the question, as always, is whether TCDailyPlanet –and publications of its ilk– can sustain financially in the long run. A call for financial help from the public resulted in only about a dozen donations, Iggers said. He hopes that TCDailyPlanet.com can adopt the NPR style of public fundraising within the next two to three years.
Will online niche community publication grow to the point where such ventures can be solidly profitable? Or will TCDailyPlanet and the many microlocal blogs remain passion projects dedicated to being an alternative to the big newspapers and TV stations in town? Passion project or otherwise, it’s the readers who likely stand to win.