‘Rocky’ Road: 40 New Web Sites, 15 Zones

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By: Graham Webster

Denver’s Rocky Mountain News launched 40 neighborhood Web sites and a weekly print section with 15 zones in May. The ambitious project, called YourHub.com, combines user-produced text and photos with neighborhood news compiled from a wide variety of sources by YourHub staff.

The News, a Scripps Howard paper in a joint operating agreement with MediaNews Group’s Denver Post, was selected to run the initiative by the Denver Newspaper Agency, which runs advertising, circulation, and other business operations for both papers. The print edition of YourHub.com has no News branding on its cover, and is distributed to subscribers of both papers as a “topper,” not tucked inside the regular newspaper.

The YourHub.com staff sorts out user submissions and scours the Internet for news relevant to Denver-area neighborhoods. “We’ve developed a policy manual for YourHub.com … and journalists use their judgment all the time to determine what is news and what’s more important,” says John Temple, the News’ president, publisher, and editor. “And they’ll be using their judgment on two levels: to evaluate reader contributions, and in putting up links to stories anywhere in the world that relate to the community.”

That means YourHub.com has already linked to the Post and its television partner, KUSA-TV, but Temple says any English-language news story relevant to the area is fair game. The staff works in its own area of the News’ building, separate from the newsroom, giving YourHub.com a measure of independence in a market where the dailies maintain a strong rivalry despite the JOA.

Meanwhile, the Daily Camera, also a Scripps paper, had already launched its own citizen-journalism Web site in nearby Boulder, Colo., when YourHub.com went live. With the large metros breathing down its neck, the paper was trying to reach Boulder-ites first. “I need to be able to get to those people quickly, first,” Kevin Kaufman, the Camera’s new media editor tells E&P. “They certainly do trust us as a local medium. I want to get my brand out there before they do.”

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