Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Bluffton (S.C.) Today

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Bluffton (S.C.) Today

Article excerpt

You can't turn the corner these days without some newspaper executive singing about hyperlocal content and its companion, community journalism. Throw in a refrain about a "platform agnostic" newsroom and it becomes the industry's latest anthem. Lots of papers are talking about this, and some have initiated sweeping changes. But one small paper tucked at the bottom of South Carolina nailed the concept way back in April 2005, and is now seeing the benefits.

Bluffton Today embraced two audacious strategies: It launched the free paper distributed seven days a week to the entire market -- not just select, desirable demos -- and a Web site that truly depended on the community, one feeding off the other.

The idea, explains Publisher Tim Anderson, was to take content posted on the Web site's blogs and put some but not all of it into the print product. "We also use the blogs internally, and we encourage our newsroom staff to post an idea or ask a question and see if we could get feedback," he says.

But Bluffton Today doesn't merely consist of community contributions. Anderson says the percentage of user-generated content, including the more traditional letters to the editor, amounts to less than a fifth of each day's offerings.

Steve Yelvington, vice president of strategy and content at parent company Morris Digital Works, says BlufftonToday.com "has enabled the newspaper to have a resource for reporting. …

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