VillageSoup is one of the James S. and John L. Knight Foundation’s first year’s recipients of a Knight Brothers News Challenge Grant. It is in Gary Kebbel’s words, the only single platform, full service projected funded in 2007.
I will try in this blog to share a view which will hopefully encourage others to engage the idea of Community Hosts and to share their thoughts and experiences as well.
The idea of a new business model for community newspapers formed in 1997 in the coastal Maine community of Camden. The idea was stimulated by the 1997 book Net Gain: Expanding Markets Through Virtual Communities: written by two McKinsey & Company consultants.
Net Gain suggested a business could be grown by organizing affinity groups. While they cited one of the least likely common interests around which to organize was a geographic place, it was cited. VillageSoup took this approach. It set out to use daily news from professional journalists where there was otherwise only weekly news to be the magnet that attracts traffic, citizen and business news to concentrate traffic and comments and discussions to lock in traffic. And local businesses would be still be the engine to monetize the business, but the fuel would be new. Display advertising, the staple fuel of newspapers would not be sufficient. New fuel would be required.
While this view was crystal clear and has remained unchanged for ten years, the words of futurist Paul Saffow ring loud and clear. Saffow says Never mistake a clear view for a short distance
Our ten year road has taken us through places called VillageGreen, Ligature.com, Click2BeHere (k2Bh) and finally VillageSoup. We have traveled roads that were toll free, pay to view and pay to post. And we have traveled in vehicles that were pure play online, online and broadsheet and now online and tab.
In my next post I will begin to examine some of the differences between a Community News business and a Community Host business.