WellCommons recognized in Knight-Batten Awards

Because he summarized it so well, here’s the post that LJWorld.com assistant director of media strategies Jonathan Kealing put on WellCommons, the local health site that we officially launched in April, a couple of days ago:

WellCommons was honored Monday as a “notable entry” in the annual Knight-Batten Awards competition.

Though WellCommons wasn’t among the top seven entrants, the site was among 30 others that were singled out for praise by the panel of judges.

Taking top honors was an effort by the Sunlight Foundation to add data and context to the coverage of a government event — coverage of the health reform summit — to make it more consumable for the audience.

ProPublica, 48HR Magazine, The Obameter from the St. Petersburg Times, Ushahidi Haiti, Publish2 News Exchange and The Takeaway took the next level of awards.

The Knight-Batten Awards reward news and information efforts that create opportunities to involve citizens in public issues and supply opportunities for participation.

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Another “Village Soup” site in Wareham, MA

I just added WarehamVillageSoup.com to the growing list of niche news sites and networks on Jurnos Wiki.

Anne Eisenmenger, founder and publisher of one of the affiliates of the Village Soup network, sends this info in a 7/12/10 email:

“The first out-of-Maine licensee of Village Soup, we have simultaneously worked to “reinvent” the community newspaper. We think we have done that with Wareham Week, a tight-and-bright professionally written, free local tab — with distribution that has grown from 4,000 in January to more than 7,000 today, just in the 8,600-household town of Wareham. (By contrast, the circulation of the paid GateHouse competitor is probably 3,000 and falling.)”

After six months, they’re “flirting” with a financial break-even point.

The list of web-only news sites is huge, and I’m sure not all are on the list. If you include all the sites that are part of the networks, which are at the bottom of the list, we’re approaching 5,000 sites. Most cover business, tech, sports and entertainment, but a significant growing number are health, environment, state government and politics, and geographic-based community sites.

Who sez journalism’s dying?

Another local news network

………with great ambition is growing in the counties north of New York City.

MainStreetConnect.com is, according to an email sent by an account director at TrylonSMR:

“Main Street Connect is a national community news company started by CEO/editor/publisher Carll Tucker, the former editor and publisher of Trader Publications, a community news company which formerly produced The Patent Trader. Main Street specializes in hyperlocal news sites, but rather than the approach of companies like Patch.com (launch sites, hire local reporters, spend millions), Main Street is set up for local entrepreneurs to become affiliates of the company. With an initial investment (and after qualifying), Main Street helps affiliates set up their sites and work with them to launch profitable, hyperlocal news outlets that can attract local advertisers. Rather than use a “one size fits all” model, these sites grow organically from people who actually live there.”

As of today, 7/3/10, MainStreetConnect has 10 sites: TheDailyNorwalk.com, TheDailyWestport.com, TheDailyWilton.com, TheDailyWeston.com, TheDailyNewCanaan.com, TheDailyGreenwich.com, TheDailyDarien.com, TheDailyFairfield.com, TheDailyStamford.com, TheDailyEaston.com.

For more information, see publisher Carll Tucker’s post last month on the genesis and plans for MainStreetConnect. He began with an idea just 13 months ago. He’s starting in Westchester, Duchess and Putnam counties, north of NYC. According to Tucker’s post, “We expect to have dozens more sites around the country by year end, and thousands, yes, thousands, in two years.”

Tucker describes a staff of more than 40 staff members — mostly ex-newspaper people — and there’s some posting across the sites — e.g., the opinion section of each is nearly the same.

Rather than hiring local staff, as AOL’s Patch does, MainStreetConnect looks for partners. This is how they describe it:

Main Street Connect provides local partners all the tools, working capital, and guidance they require to build profitable high-quality community news sites. Main Street Connect Partners have the opportunity to strengthen their communities while earning a good living and building value. Please submit the NDA below to learn more about joining the MSC Network or click here to contact us with questions. We want to hear from you.