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How to start your own local news site: Tips from a Berkeleyside co-founder

Berkeleyside was launched in 2009 after one of the founders, Lance Knobel, wondered why there wasn’t a good source of local news in Berkeley and decided to create one.

The prospect of starting your own news site is more viable an option than ever in the current media climate. Traditional news organizations are plunging left and right, the tools for publishing are free and easy, and communities are finding a new desire to access and share information. In Berkeley, California, the circumstances were similar in 2009, which led a group of journalists to fill the need by starting their own dedicated site, Berkeleyside.

Some excerpts from an article on Media Bistro: [Link]

  • Berkeleyside was founded in October 2009 by Lance Knobel, Frances Dinkelspiel, and Tracey Taylor who all have backgrounds as editors and writers.
  • The site is run on WordPress
  • Their main revenue stream is advertising (and they’re starting to build membership revenue)
  • After 18 months of existence, the founders have only recently begun to pay themselves a “very modest monthly salary”
  • Berkelyside.com currently has 117,660 unique visitors monthly
  • The Berkeleyside iPhone app calls for user contributions by allowing community members to submit photos from the scene of news events
  • Three trips Taylor offers to others wanting to start a local news site: do it your way, keep it lean and be transparent

Q: What are the top 3 tips you would pass on to people wanting to start an independent news site in their communities?

  • Do it your way. Make the site your own with voice and personality while meeting the needs of your readers.
  • Keep it lean. An independent online news site can be launched on a wing and a prayer. There’s no need to accrue big debts at the outset, or hopefully ever.
  • Be transparent. Do the best you can, but if you a make mistake come clean. There’s nowhere to hide with a community site and you rely wholly on your readers’ trust for your reputation and hence survival.
Date posted: March 31, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 66