Michele's List
Building blocks in the emerging local news ecosystem


The categories reflect how different types of sites focus their journalism and what that might suggest for its revenue model. The categories are inevitably imperfect and they have evolved as the field has evolved. This version dates to December 2015. If you have suggestions for improving the categories, please email me at info.micheleslist@gmail.com.


New Traditional 

These sites cover public affairs topics such as state or local government, politics, development, environment and education. They typically cover multiple topics but they seldom cover traditional breaking news topics such as crime, traffic, or weather. Most are nonprofits and they operate with significant foundation and donor support.  Memberships and event or content sponsorships are growing revenue sources.



Like the New Traditionals, investigative sites focus on public affairs topics. But instead of daily news reporting, they focus their efforts on longer term, in-depth reporting. The primary distribution method for investigative sites is through publication on other media outlets rather than driving traffic to their own sites. Some charge syndication fees, other allow republication for free. Investigative sites typically are foundation-supported. Some also seek revenue or university support by training journalism students.


Local news

These sites cover a mix of highly granular breaking news and features, including crime, local government, traffic and sports. Many are one- or two-person for-profit bootstraps that operate in a town, neighborhood or suburb. Advertising is the dominant revenue source. Emerging sources include events, crowdfunding, and Web and social media services. 


Topic niche

These sites focus on a single topic - business, environment, education, technology etc. - or a small number of related topics. This category also includes sites that cover a limited number of topics of interest to a demographically defined audience, such as ethnic media. They are a mix of for-profit and nonprofit sites so revenue might include foundation funding and donations for the nonprofits and advertising and events for the for-profit sites. 



These sites focus on community building to a greater extent than more traditional sites. That might be reflected in a sustained ability to rely on volunteer contributors.


Local light

These sits focus on a single topic or a few related topics that are on the fun side - events, shopping, sports, entertainment, food, new businesses. Advertising is a major revenue source.