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Three years into nonprofit ownership, The Philadelphia Inquirer is still trying to chart its future
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March 19, 2019, 10 a.m.
Reporting & Production

Pittsburgh local news site The Incline finds a new home at WhereBy.Us

The news comes a couple of weeks after The Incline’s previous owner, Spirited Media, said it was selling off its local news sites.

Two weeks ago, when Spirited Media announced it was getting out of the local news publishing business, it looked to many like a bad omen for the small group of companies trying to build metro-level, mobile-first, millennial-seeking, but relatively low-cost news outlets.

But as of today, another one of Spirited’s three sites has found a new home — with another similar company in the space. The Incline, which launched in 2016 to cover Pittsburgh, has been acquired by local media network WhereBy.us. ( Denverite sold to Colorado Public Radio. The Philly-focused Billy Penn is still on the market.)

The Incline becomes WhereBy.Us’ fifth local media property, joining The New Tropic (Miami), The Evergrey (Seattle), Pulptown (Orlando), and Bridgeliner (Portland, OR). WhereBy CEO Chris Sopher told my colleague Christine Schmidt previously:

Serving new cities has double effects for us. Part of it is that we’re able to grow our overall base of users to be able to do more work with and get better data and understand how we can serve people better. Moving into more geographies and cities is important way to test that rather than just have a larger audience in one city, because it gives us better data.

The other piece is that we’ve built a bunch of tools that have helped us get more efficient and effective at the work, that have helped us get to a place where we say, ‘Okay, we’re ready to move on to a new market now with the things we’ve built so far.’ Those things have helped us get to a place where it’s financially feasible to launch in a new market and make sure we get the right return while making something meaningful in those new markets and really being responsible to the opportunity and the users in the city.

WhereBy.Us had originally planned to expand much more aggressively, with a goal of 5 cities by the end of 2017, 12 by the end of 2018, and 25 by the end of 2019. The incline will be the company’s first new site in a year (exactly).

The main focus of each of WhereBy.Us’ properties is a weekday morning newsletter. The Incline has been sending out a newsletter seven days a week; with the move to WhereBy, it’ll get to take weekends off.

“The Incline will still be Incline-y. We’ve still got our sass and Pittsburghese,” The Incline’s staff wrote in a post Tuesday. “We’ll keep monitoring the city, highlighting bright spots and challenges…We’re doubling down on serving as a guidebook to your town — think neighborhood guides, profiles of community leaders, and even more awesome events.” The site will also continue its membership push. Rossilynne Culgan, who had been The Incline’s food and culture editor, will now be its director. (Its former director, Lexi Belculfine, is headed to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Reporter M.J. Slaby is moving to Indiana in what the site says is an unrelated move.)

Photo by clkohan used under a Creative Commons License.

POSTED     March 19, 2019, 10 a.m.
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