As someone who supports organizations that are struggling to raise awareness of their worthy missions, the strangulation of local traditional media is my personal nightmare. It’s still possible to reach people who may be interested, but through channels with much narrower audiences. In my last posts, I’ve explored several new channels that are trying to win a position as the “go to” source for very local news. Thus far, I haven’t been too impressed.
I’m probably most intrigued by sacramentopress.com, an online newspaper that aims to be the most comprehensive local news source about the Sacramento Metro area. I learned about them in late April through a Google Alert. While there’s no Pulitzer material here, the news channel is building its content and some of the writing is surprisingly good, considering that the “paper” says that it has no full-time writing staff (or had – I’m going by what it said on its website). It has an editor in chief, (Geoff Samek), managing editor (David Watts Barton), a staff writer who covers the politics beat (Kathleen Haley) and an editorial apprentice (Jonathan Mendick). And just last month, it hired journalist Suzanne Hurt. Oh, and at least two interns!
Perhaps the coolest thing about sacramentopress is its openness — even dependence — on volunteer contributors. In March, “Stina” asked, “Can we submit a story idea?” Ben Ilfeld, the Chief Operating Officer, explained that anyone can contribute by registering (click “sign up”) and then submitting (click “write”). Stina also wanted to know if there is a section for posting volunteer opportunities. Ben responded that people can submit announcements and stories and then tag them as “volunteer opportunities.”
From a non-profit’s perspective, some of sacramentopress.com’s contributors seem to be interested in local causes, and that’s good news. Tina Armour’s last two pieces have been about local non-profits, the Sacramento Celebrity Chef Challenge benefiting InAlliance, and the Sacramento SPCA. As I write this, she says she’s working on uploading a new article on the HIV/AIDS rally today. She says she’s always interested in story ideas. [True to her deadline, Tina posted her article and it’s the front page feature this morning… a lot more interesting than yesterday’s building demolition piece…]
Kati Garner is another community contributor who writes about community happenings and has written recently about services for Sacramento’s homeless population.
I don’t know how many volunteer contributors there are, because there’s no centralized list. But when you see an article that interests you, click on the story author and you’ll be taken to their profile page. Besides the profile information they’ve chosen to list (sometimes very cryptic, as in occupation: “n/a”), you’ll see a thumbnail of their most recent stories and comments. I also like the inclusion of their personalized tag cloud.
Community involvement is one of the things that makes Sacramento special. I hope that sacramentopress.com continues to follow local non-profits and causes — and gains a loyal following for doing so.
As a source, they don’t yet have the credibility of a fact-checked newspaper, although they say that they are now doing some fact-checking of stories submitted by community contributors. Because profile information is so cryptic, we don’t know if these volunteer writers have a vested interest in the organizations they write about. But I’m still thrilled to see sacramentopress.com in the local media mix, and picking up steam. I’ll sleep easier.
By the way, you can follow sacramentopress.com on Twitter (@sacramentopress – with about 2,500 followers and people they’re following). They post most of their headlines so you can easily dip into your tweet stream and pull out something they posted. (see ya there – @philanthrophile)