Community Post

Corporate Media Arrives in the CD

In the last couple of years Seattle has become home to a unique population of indie neighborhood news sites. Capitol Hill Seattle and West Seattle Blog were the first (and still probably the best), and we think our October 2007 launch makes us #4, after Blogging Georgetown. And since then, we’ve used our Neighborlogs platform to create a network of a dozen different sites in neighborhoods across Seattle.

They’ve all been growing wildly in traffic and attention. This site alone clocked a record 156,000 page views in July, and our Neighborlogs network had 79,000 unique visitors. That kind of traffic tends to get attention, and the big corporate media outlets have taken notice. The Seattle PI (owned by the Hearst corp) launched their first neighborhood blog last month on Queen Anne, and today KOMO TV launched a series of neighborhood sites citywide, including one here in the CD.

The new competition validates the long hours we’ve spent building this platform. The attempt to duplicate our features is especially flattering. But unlike these centrally-driven groups, we actually live in the communities we cover. We hear when sirens go flying down 23rd Ave, get out and go to neighborhood meetings, and discover local news when we’re just out walking around with the Newshound. And we’ll probably understand that a south Seattle shooting and a SODO gas leak aren’t actually in the Central District. (Update: those posts were removed from their front page after we pointed them out)

TV has a long history of regurgitating stories they find elsewhere, often without attribution. And so far, it looks like the online efforts will be no different. But we’ll still be here with detailed, timely, original coverage of the things that are important to our neighborhood.

And remember that advertising is what keeps your favorite indie site in business. Anyone can advertise on CDNews, and reach thousands of people right near them, for as low as $2.50 a day. So if you happen to notice that your favorite business is not an advertiser, or see a local business advertising on a corporate site, be sure and ask them to support CDNews the next time you’re in their shop.

0 thoughts on “Corporate Media Arrives in the CD

  1. Also, EveryBlock announced today that they have been acquired by MSNBC. Some commentary on the acquisition from Mike Davidson of Newsvine (Seattle-based world/national news online community, also now part of MSNBC).

    EveryBlock’s view of the Central District:

    Their approach is totally different than CDN, but they were another neighborhood news indie, who are now owned by the biggest news website in the US.

    I don’t think any of the big-media news entities are going to be able to imitate what makes CDN so great. That greatness comes from people in the neighborhood reporting on what they see outside of their homes and offices, and from them following-up on issues that are maybe tiny in terms of the “big news,” but totally matter to us. Perhaps even more than that, I think we are neighbors talking to each other via CDN–not “broadcasters” talking to their “audience.”

    I think some of the more desperate news organizations are maybe just trying to catch a train that has already left the station. But, in the worst case, they are desperately trying to direct neighborhood energies into a supporting their corporate news brand before we get too attached to our more local, grass-roots, community sites. I think, in the case of CDN (and Capitol Hill Seattle), they are certainly too late!

    But, the web allows us to benefit from a bigger mix of sources and approaches than just newspapers, TV and radio broadcasting. So, I think it’ll be interesting to see if the MSNBC approach, which is more like partnerships, ends up finding some useful states of symbioses with sites like CDN. We certainly would continue to benefit from the work of professional journalists intersecting with the news needs of our neighborhood.

    (Coincidentally, I know some people who both work at MSNBC and who live in the CD, and they all love the CDN!)

  2. Everyblock is measured in Quantcast, so we can look at some interesting stats and see how strong the local indie news scene is:
    Everyblock, which covers 11 cities, has 1.5 million page views a month
    If you add up the Quantcast page views for West Seattle Blog and MyBallard, and add in the Google Analytics page views for our Neighborlogs network, you also get 1.5 million page views a month. Note that this leaves out large Seattle sites such as Rainier Valley Post, and the other sites in the MyBallard network.

    In summary, the indie neighborhood news sites here in Seattle have more monthly traffic than a national website that was just bought for millions of dollars.

  3. Scott,

    I just logged on to the Komo site and also registered a password there because I was curious. The email address from which I received my password used the name “Central District News.” Also, when logging on, one is prompoted for a “Central District News” username and password. Seems to me that a cease and desist letter to Fisher Communications is appropriate.

  4. could have an undercover “fake news” week to keep those herd boyz spinnin’

  5. I love this site and am currently building my own tiny itty bitty art business. I’ll be advertising here soon, nowhere I’d rather pay to advertise than on a site monitored, run, and read by people in my neighborhood!!!

  6. The Komo site has something called “The Legal Beagle.” They supposedly take questions submitted by neighborhood residents and provide legal advice in response. The one that’s currently posted is pretty irrelevant to much of the neighborhood (from a purely legal perspective), and it’s also posted on the other Komo neighborhood blog sites. So much for being a relevant part of the neighborhood. Anyhow, I submitted a question to the Legal Beagle, and I encourage others to copy and submit the same question. I don’t think they’ll ever post it, but it’s a fun way to let them know we don’t think too highly of them. You can email it directly to [email protected], with the subject line: {Legal Beagle question} Central District News.

    A major news corporation just started operating what purports to be a community news blog covering my neighborhood. It decided to use the same name as a community news blog that had already existed in the neighborhood for nearly 2 years. Shouldn’t the major news corporation trying to fit in with the neighborhood have acted neighborly by not infringing on the real community news blog’s Trademark?

  7. It looks to me like the Leagle Beagle stuff is supposed to be ‘general’ advice and the stuff in the center of the site is pertinent to our neighborhood. It’s kind of like how a lot of sites have more general interest stuff (most e-mailed, featured videos) down the the side and the good stuff in the middle.

    I’m just happy that a major news organization is taking some interest in local reporting again. I’m not going to stop reading this site because another one has popped up, but it sure will be nice to have more to read!

    I’m surprised you’re upset that a major news organization is actually taking steps to cover stuff besides traffic and weather and putting a little attention on our neighborhood that’s got more coverage than ‘local man shot’. I’m just pleased that there’s a Central District site at all!

  8. 1. Trademark infringement is inappropriate, illegal, and unnecessary. Fisher Communications, Komo’s parent company, would serve an immediate C&D letter on anyone who used one of their trademarks. Quite simply, they shouldn’t use the name Central District News. There are plenty of other names they can come up with on their own and use.

    2. Fisher is soliciting neighborhood residents to creat its content without compensation or any revenue sharing. Fisher’s terms of services specifically states that any content you post remains your intellecutal property, albeit subject to having granted Fisher a license to the content that is non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicensable and worldwide. Yes, that means they can sell your content to anyone for any price and you will not receive a penny no matter how much it might earn. Interestingly, Fisher also includes this in its terms of use: We respect the intellectual property rights of others and require that visitors to our Site do the same. I’ll believe it when they stop using the name Central District News on its site and in its emails.

    In the end, Fisher isn’t doing much to actually cover the neighborhood. Instead, it’s encouraging the neighborhood to cover the neighborhood in an effort to increase ad revenues and obtain content that it can potentially sublicense and profit from. Of course, we all provide content to this site without compensation. However, there is a significant difference in contributing to a true neighborhood site run by an individual than contribuing to a site run by an established company with a paid staff of writers.

    Now, I’m not anti-corporate or opposed to major news organizations. I certainly do not believe something is upsetting or bad just because it has corporate backing. I just find this move transparent, disigenuous, and a bit exploitative.

  9. FYI – We sent correspondence to Fisher Interactive yesterday regarding the trademark infringement. Haven’t heard back yet, but hope to before we have to get the lawyers involved in a more serious way

  10. wanting to keep an eye on the KOMO site to see if they lift any articles, and watch the Beagle discussion, and not wanting to give them the hits.

    It looks like a couple of the people discussing the Beagle column are here too.

  11. Either a site changed or I made a mistake.

    I’m sure CDN will be able to compete, but couldn’t those others simply refer to your stories the same way you sometimes refer to the PI, Seattle Times and other media. I guess they have nothing better to report city-wide, nationally or internationally.

  12. “It” being what makes blogs exciting. Relevant, timely, somewhat if not completely devoid of censorship, interactive, communal. That being said, it’s a good looking package.