Growing Local, Online Journalism
After working as a reporter and editor for the MetroWest Daily News, Jennifer Paluzzi was laid off in October of 2008. Despite her frustration, Paluzzi pushed herself to do more than just settle for a PR job at a local hospital (as the health report at MetroWest, everybody expected just that from her).
Jobless, with a multitude of time on her hands, Paluzzi began to realize how terrible the news sources for Grafton, her home town, really were. In ranting to a fellow parent at the bus stop one morning, Paluzzi had an epiphany. She challenged herself to become the news source in Grafton that she longed for as a local citizen and mother. Plauzzi began to update her Word Press blog GreaterGrafton.com three to five times a day with a variety of local stories. She covered everything from local town meetings to questions surrounding the new high school being built in town. Slowly but surely, her readership grew.
Eventually, Paluzzi got an offer from a publisher asking her to become the editor of the Grafton Times, a brand new online newspaper. After some discussion, The Daily Grafton evolved, and has since become one of six local online-only news sources for towns in western Massachusetts. Their hub, CentralMassNews.com, is one of the fastest growing journalism businesses in Massachusetts, and is one of the only news organizations hiring journalists instead of firing them.
In speaking to our class on Wednesday afternoon, Paluzzi noted that creating a website is about more than just the act of writing – its about how you utilize that site. She features video and photos on her sites and if citizens demand something, she can put it up in seconds. Important information like snow day announcements and posts about big events in town can all be found on her sites. All of the sites send out daily emails, use social media like Facebook & Twitter and focus on immediate, constant coverage. By targeting local advertisers, Paluzzi makes enough advertising revenue to turn a significant profit.
“I’m covering this like its world war three,” she said. I guess that’s the trick to being a dependable local journalist -dedicate yourself wholeheartedly, no matter how insignificant the subject matter may seem.
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