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Newsonomics: What was once unthinkable is quickly becoming reality in the destruction of local news
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July 29, 2013, 3:05 p.m.
LINK: dankennedy.net  ➚   |   Posted by: Caroline O'Donovan   |   July 29, 2013

A few years ago, Tom Stites, formerly of The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer and beyond, wrote a series of pieces about his plan to help save local journalism via news cooperatives. Later this year, he plans to launch the first of these experiments in Haverhill, Mass.

In the lead up, Dan Kennedy has been blogging about the media landscape in Haverhill. His first post is a historical overview of newspapers in the area; today he writes about “reviving old-time radio.”

Coco expects to broadcast repurposed content from Haverhill Matters on WHAV, and added that he can also play a role in providing some of the “institutional memory” for Haverhill Matters that may be lacking with “newbie reporters.” Although Haverhill Matters will hire a full-time professional editor, Banyan Project founder Tom Stites and the organizing committee also talk about using interns from Northern Essex Community College, neighborhood bloggers and the like.

Haverhill Matters and an expanded WHAV both represent ambitious visions for local, independent media organizations, and it will take a certain amount of blind faith — my phrase, not Coco’s — for those visions to become a reality.

For instance, when I asked Coco about his plan to increase spending at WHAV from $38,000 in 2013 to $93,000 in 2015, he replied matter-of-factly, “It is a projection, but it has to.” And he expessed skepticism about Stites’ plan to raise $54,000 for Haverhill Matters by persuading 1,500 people to pay $36 each.

“It isn’t feasible, and this isn’t feasible,” Coco said, referring to Haverhill Matters and to his own efforts at WHAV. “And I do have some long-term worries in both cases.”

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