The Sacramento Press will be the most comprehensive, local news source and information center for the Sacramento Metropolitan Area.
We are a strictly online newspaper. Our writers are primarily volunteer Community Contributors.
We combined the best tools on the web and built an outstanding platform from scratch. This platform enables people to tell stories about their neighborhoods and have thoughtful conversations about these stories. Then our editors place the best content on the front page and section pages to highlight great work.
The casual experience is like a traditional newspaper. We take pride in putting the content front and center. We also take pride in making our tools for rating content, leaving comments, and flagging inappropriate content easy to find and easy to use. For those who are web savvy, we offer all the tools for a power user to aggregate (RSS), categorize (tags), and dig deeper with our “storyline” button.
We are a for profit business, but we consider ourselves a public trust. The original concept of the corporation was a balance between allowing people to join together for a common goal with some profit potential and demanding that the corporation provide a public service to the nation. In our case, we will provide valuable services to the neighborhoods of Sacramento while showing that this kind of community journalism can be profitable.
Recently a reader emailed and asked me about The Sacramento Press as a business. What is our direction? How do we make money? Why would anyone want to write for The Sacramento Press?
I think it is best to start at the beginning. Geoff and I wanted to cover local news. We were both working other jobs at the time and The Press was just an idea. We wanted to start a traditional newspaper, brick and mortar, with regular paper editions and a full staff of writers. Plus we wanted to have an online edition with a focus on community debate. We put together a business plan and had some consultants take a look. It didn’t go well. This was in 2003 and even back then most people realized paper newspapers were part of a mature industry heading for a slow decline.
The advice of the consultants? Cut costs in three areas: paper, delivery, and labor. We weren’t really too happy. Essentially these people just gutted our dream. We tried a few other plans on paper, but nothing incredible happened until I stumbled upon The Northwest Voice, a community newspaper in Bakersfield, CA. I was able to speak with their editor at the time Mary Lou Fulton. She was cheery and encouraging. And she had reason to be, The Northwest Voice was pioneering a new era in community journalism: citizen journalism.
Over the next two years Geoff and I crafted our business plan and talked about technology. Our goal never changed. We still wanted to find a way to get more local, neighborhood news out there and let people debate and discuss in a civil forum. We refined the concept to its core; let people do what people love to do:
So how were we going to run with low enough costs to make it happen? Being online only we not only eliminate costs associated with the rising price of paper, but also the rising costs of delivery (like gasoline).
Better yet, the price to host a site online is going down, not up. What about labor? Did we want to get rid of reporters? Our consultants from 2003 wanted us to be an aggregator and just show content other news outlets already wrote. But the catch is that Geoff and I got in this business specifically to get more local coverage, not just point to the very little local news that other outlets provide. Plus, there are other great options that aggregate local content from weblogs in Sacramento (like ipso sacto). Also, Geoff and I realized that not only do reporters want to get paid, but many do not want to cover neighborhood level stuff. I’m talking about sending someone out to cover a little league game, lack of lighting at a basketball court, or a house being torn down. These are things that matter to the community, but they lack the spice that would entice a great professional to do great work. Finally, wouldn’t the people who care most about these local events be the best to cover them? The reporter we send to a little league game may know a ton about baseball, but do they know the names of these little players? I know that I would rather read a piece written by someone who lives in a neighborhood everyday than someone sent to cover it for one day.
Today Geoff and I want to be part of a mixed solution. There is a place for a spectrum of local coverage from professional to amateur and from very structured to independent blogging. The Sacramento Press is a place where we want to empower you to tell your local stories. We encourage you to become a community contributor and write. If your story is great, we will put it on the front page. If you want help copy editing, email your draft to email@example.com. We will be hosting workshops if you want to improve your writing skills. It is time to come together and build a more vibrant Sacramento.