Michele's List, created and managed by Michele McLellan, is an exploration of the new local news landscape at the ground level - where online news and niche start ups are trying to invent new ways for news and info to survive and thrive with their communities.
The site has two goals:
I originally developed my list of promising local news sites as a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute in 2010. Since then, I've added (and subtracted) sites and conducted an annual survey of publishers in order to better understand what's happening in this part of the new local news landscape.
The criteria for the list are fairly simple - they are aimed at identifying sites that are progressing on three fronts - content, engagement and revenue. This may be a somewhat limited universe and leave out good sites. But my idea is to focus on sites that may be developing a formula that will create impact and sustainability in many communities.
Here are my criteria:
1. Content: The site is devoted primarily to original news.
2. Practices: The content demonstrates a desire and an effort to practice accuracy, transparency and fair play.
3. Engagement: The site demonstrates a desire and an effort to promote civic engagement or an ethic of participation.
4. Frequency: The news report is updated at least three times a week. (Except in the case of purely Investigative sites, which may publish or distribute their content less often.)
5. Sustainability: Site owners are making a serious effort to develop revenue streams.
When I first started the list, I thought it might have 25 or 30 entries. So we simply published a paragraph describing each site. But the number quickly exceeded 100 and the diversity of models was interesting. So this new iteration of the list is searchable and my hope is that publishers will be able to use the filters to identify peers who have similar models or who are doing something they are thinking about trying. I will also publish results of the annual survey in the spring.
The sites are very loosely categorized and I expect the categories to change over time as the ecosystem evolves. My original list had several categories: New Traditionals, Community, Micro Local, and Niche Local. I've added Investigative sites. It's an imperfect classification: There is a lot of diversity within some of the categories. But they mainly sort out around what I think might be their business model. You'll find the category descriptions here.
In 2015, the database represents a collaboration with the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at City University of New York. Previously, project received significant support from The Patterson Foundation. This version of the database was built in 2013 Kenny Katzgrau and John Creprezzi of Broadstreet Ads.
The most important contributors to the site are all the publishers who provide information about their work. Thank you.
You can suggest a site (yours or someone else's) for the list here. If your site is on the list and you'd like to create a profile, contact me and I'll set you up to take the survey.
Questions? Suggestions? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.