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    Local news fails — in a good way
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    July 21, 2015, 12:03 p.m.
    Business Models

    Who’s making money — and who isn’t — in local online news?

    The number of independent local news sites generating significant revenue leaves something to be desired. At the top of the list: a site covering the Florida Panhandle beach lifestyle.

    is an invaluable compilation of the most promising local online-native news sites trying to make a go of it in this disrupted age. Compiled by , the list’s are that a site is “progressing on three fronts — content, engagement and revenue.” McLellan periodically surveys the list’s members on a host of issues; we wrote about her most recent findings earlier this month.

    But along with the interesting , McLellan also provides the individual survey results, which feature more detailed information on each local site. (You can get that data .) When I got a copy, I looked at one question in particular asked of the startups:

    In what range was the total revenue of your site in the last calendar year?

    Revenue numbers are sometimes hard to come by in this space, so I was grateful that these local sites were willing to share their information, if only in broad ranges. Some of the higher-revenue sites are ones that get a decent amount of attention — the , , , . But there are also some who don’t get much notice outside of their local readership.

    I confess I hadn’t heard of , a site all about the beach lifestyle along in the Florida Panhandle. Not exactly an investigative site, to be sure, but nonetheless, one that has expanded into podcasts, retail, online classifieds, and more. (Interested in learning more about them? Check out this podcast interview with founder , in which he describes his aim of creating .)

    Pulled from the survey data, here’s the full listing, broken down by revenue level. (Street Fight’s Tom Grubisch .) To distinguish between different kinds of local news sites, I’ve bolded those sites who said producing “investigative or watchdog journalism” was the site’s “primary focus.” I’ve italicized those who said that sort of work is something they produce “occasionally.” A site that is neither bold nor in italics said investigative or watchdog journalism is something they produce either infrequently or not at all. (All such statements are self-reported; I’m sure some might quibble with some of them.)

    (One other note: The sites listed below are those that responded to McLellan’s survey — not a complete census of all local news sites. There are, of course, other local sites making significant revenues — The Texas Tribune, MinnPost, Voice of San Diego, and Chalkbeat are some that come to mind.)

    More than $1 million

    $500,000 to $1 million

    $250,000 to $500,000

    $100,000 to $250,000


    $50,000 to $100,000

    $0 to $50,000

    Photo of a beach along Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A by used under a Creative Commons license.

    POSTED     July 21, 2015, 12:03 p.m.
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