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Have I Got a Story to Tell


Recently the Rotary Club of Redding, Calif., (I'm a member) asked me to explain about our little company. Here's the piece I wrote, updated with Q3 '09 numbers.

When I left newspaper editing in '07, I thought I was finished with the whole messy, dying business. But it turned out I was only done with the paper part, not the news.

Papers are on palliative care, but the news keeps right on happening. Writing about the community is what I love to do. Thankfully, it doesn't have to involve smearing ink on dead trees.

Our answer is anewscafe.com.

It's a new-media start-up -- a news website about California's North State.

We have hard news, human-interest features, real estate listings, death notices, birth announcements, business stories, a huge entertainment section, restaurant reviews, movie listings, food articles, gardening advice, events calendars, links, bloggers, cartoons, puzzles, color and commentary.

It's the best of everything: No ink, no paper, no rattletrap presses, no carrier issues. Best of all: free to readers.

Three partners own and operate it -- journalist Doni Greenberg, Bruce Greenberg and I. It was Doni's baby originally, born in October 2007. I joined a few months later. Our "toddler" is almost 2 years old, but we still think of it as new (just like my grown sons will always be my babies).

About 50 community contributors provide a great deal of original content. Other key players are journalist/musician Jim Dyar, cartoonist Phil Fountain and journalist/novelist Steve Brewer.

Last summer we partnered with Redding ArtHop creators Troy Hawkins and Adam Mankoski to create "Day & Night," which is our comprehensive arts & entertainment component.

We even have a few Redding transplants who post from Paris, Greece, Italy, Czech Republic and other exotic places, just to keep in touch with home.

anewscafe.com is designed to be a community resource. If someone has something to say or an event to publicize, we are available. We offer a do-it-yourself calendar (free) and events listings (free). The Village Voices section is a platform for opinions or advice (free). And every article has a place for readers to weigh in.

All points of view are welcome.

Commenters on our website are usually well-behaved and intelligent. Most use their real names. We set a tone for polite exchanges and disagreements. Once in a blue moon we might have to tell a rude newcomer, "This is our house. Please don't vomit on the furniture." It works.

The website is supported by advertising. Ad rates are delightfully competitive and can be found under Advertise at the top of our homepage. The rates are transparent - everybody can see them anytime and compare them to other prices in town.

We take a "service above self" approach: We've developed an internship/scholarship program that teaches journalism basics and allows tailored job-shadowing. We partner with nonprofits for community fundraisers. We create trade agreements to support area economic development. We seek opportunities to reach under-served readers, especially in rural areas.

The positive response to anewscafe.com has been overwhelming. Community support is strong. Readership is growing like topsy - our analytics programs show that 32,000 individual computers a month are accessing anewscafe.com. They generate 780,000 pageviews a month. And they support our local advertisers (that's another thing our analytics can document).

Want to see our skyrocketing growth chart?

Newspapers are significantly reducing their staffs, coverage, rural delivery and news space. But we are increasing them. Without the overhead costs of bricks and mortar, vehicle fleets, newsprint and hard-to-find press parts, we can put all our resources into one thing: More local news to more North State readers.

Communities can never have too many news outlets. Competition is a good thing. It keeps everybody honest, accountable and sharp. The more competition the better service, delivery, information and pricing. The readers -- and the community -- always win.

Our website is locally owned, locally interested and locally relevant. Thanks again for asking about our baby. If you'd like to visit anewscafe.com, a good place to start is the "Week in Review" button, top right on the homepage. You'll see familiar names and faces. We're open 24/7, and we welcome you with open arms.

4 comments:

  1. I'm very excited about your "toddler".Our community needs the up-beat attitude that you bring to the table. It's fresh, new, appeals to many and keeps it professional! what a great combo!!! Keep up the great work!! Redding needs you!!

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  2. I'm interesting in hearing more. The internships sound interesting. It may be the sort of thing my multimedia students could connect with. I also would like to know how you work with your contributing writers and columnists.

    Robb Lightfoot
    www.robblightfoot.com

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  3. Our local newspaper may have lost its soul when y'all left, but that soul is now found at A News Cafe. Congratulations.

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