The online journalism scene is one of the toughest fields to break into and 2010 was no exception. For starters, AOL embarked on an ambitious plan to make Patch the household hyperlocal news network, dumping $50 million into the service and becoming the nation’s largest hirer of full-time journalists. Despite these efforts, the verdict is still out on who can develop an efficient, yet effective content model at the hyperlocal level, but some promising new startups think they have what it takes.
Furthermore, among the new class of online publications are those who are staying away from reporting news all-together. Rather, they have developed niche sites that satisfy a void in content previously unavailable. The biggest determinant of these successes will be whether there is enough public interest in the genre. So, you tell us-
Of all the online journalism startups of 2010, which one’s do you think are most promising?
Publisher: The Awl
Key Personnel: Adam Frucci (Managing Editor); former Gizmodo Editor
Splitsider is a comedy site that aims to become your daily dose of humour. They cover movies, television, web videos, books, and anything else that might make you laugh. While Splitsider has recorded a single day with 30,000 uniques, they have yet to maintain a steady flow of traffic.
Publisher: The Awl
Key Personnel: Edith Zimmerman (Editor); former New York Magazine writer
Genre: Women's Interest
The Hairpin is self-described as a 'low-key cocktail party among select female friends'. The ladies' site is off to a good start, landing a sponshorship deal with Ann Taylor, and being profiled by David Carr in The New York Times. But the question remains, will enough people show up to the party for The Hairpin to be successful?
Publisher: Spanfeller Media Group
Key Personnel: Jim Spanfeller (Founder); former CEO of Forbes.com, Colman Andrews (Editorial Director), Valaer Murray (Managing Editor)
Genre: Food and Drink
The Daily Meal wants to become the foodie site that can attract 15-20 million monthly uniques, a feat still unclaimed in the food industry. Founder, Jim Spanfeller thinks he's the one who can build such a network, as he successfully grew monthly traffic at Forbes.com to 20 million during his tenure there. Earlier this year, Peter Kafka reported that The Daily Meal had secured $2 million in funding from various investors.
Key Personnel: Josh Benson and Tom McGeveran (co-Founders); former Observer Editors
Genre: Local News (New York City)
Capital hopes to differentiate themselves from other New York media by providing magazine-quality editorial online. The site started with a cultural focus, and as they outgrow the beta phase, will gradually introduce new verticals on media and politics.
Publisher: Joe Ricketts
Key Personnel: Leela de Kretser (Managing Editor)
Genre: Local News (Manhattan)
DNAinfo is the latest endeavour spearheaded by Ameritrade founder and Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts. He is outspokenly bullish on the long-term future of the hyperlocal news business, and has assembled a sizeable team of writers to report original coverage of all the Manhattan neighborhoods. Since launching in January, DNAinfo has maintained steady traffic growth, and will soon be closing in on 300,000 monthly uniques.
Publisher: Allbritton Communications Company
Key Personnel: Paul Volpe (Managing Editor), Erik Wemple (Editor)
Genre: Local News (Washington D.C.)
TBD is one of the most lavishly financed hyperlocal ventures to date. Allbritton Communications, who also owns Politico, poached a number of big-name editors to launch TBD out of the gate quickly this year. However, the recent departure of general manager, Jim Brady, raises some questions about whether Allbritton is capable of developing a successful content model. TBD will not yet disclose their current traffic stats, although Quantcast reports clearly indicate an upward trend since the summer.
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