In the past few days the Online Journalism Blog has moved to hosting on Journal Local, a platform primarily aimed at hyperlocal publishers.
I’ve moved the blog for a number of reasons. Firstly, the platform offers specialist support that doesn’t appear to be available anywhere else. Philip John, who built Journal Local, is an experienced hyperlocal publisher (of the Lichfield Blog) himself, and he knows his stuff. He has already been able to provide technical assistance on all sorts of things I don’t always have the time to look into, from themes and plugins to sorting things out when the blog has been the target of hackers.
In fact, just having someone around who knows when the blog is being targeted by hackers is going to give me a bit more peace of mind.
Secondly, I want to support what Philip is trying to do. Journal Local is an attempt to find one sustainable business model for hyperlocal publishing. It’s not only well thought-out and executed but, for me, could make it easier for hyperlocal publishers generally to continue to operate both editorially and commercially.
It’s a freemium service, with a free, bespoke platform for those who are trying out hyperlocal publishing, but also – in the premium version – more control and support for existing publishers who are looking to make their operations more professional. Both are expanding markets.
And although Journal Local hasn’t yet officially launched, already North West Sheffield News and Inside the M60 have signed up, and the Future of News website is using the platform too.
A key element for me is that Journal Local isn’t just a technical service but an information service as well. If you’ve met Philip, you’ll know he’s an important part of the hyperlocal movement and always ready to offer help to other bloggers and publishers. I think that’s key in any new media business – that it’s a vocation for the founder.
Particularly interesting are the features tailored to hyperlocal site owners and online journalists. The basic setup comes with plugins that pull from TheyWorkForYou.com, WriteToThem.com and Opening Times – as well as an Addiply plugin that allows publishers to instantly sell advertising. The service will also be bolstered in the near future by features that take advantage of such great tools as OpenlyLocal and Patient Opinion, among others.
In that context, I’d much rather give the money I currently pay on hosting and domain name registration to Journal Local. It’s a no-brainer.
And I may well start recommending that students running their own hyperlocal operations use the free version of the service.
In the meantime, I guess if you want to use it yourself you’d need to contact Philip John on Twitter or something.