I live in the West Bronx area of New York City. The neighborhoods in this area are diverse, the history is complicated, and the stigma of the Bronx is strong.
There is no metro paper that covers these neighborhoods. The New York Times, Daily News, New York Post and Gothamist occasionally cover political and crime issues in the area, but no major paper is giving this group of communities a voice.
Instead, residents are given a voice in the small local papers that are part of the Bronx News Network. Rather than focusing on breaking news items and fighting over scoops, these papers work together. The Bronx News Network is a nonprofit organization founded by Mosholu Preservation Corporation and the Norwood News.
None of these papers are dailies. They publish anywhere from every two weeks to once a month. But they still provide an important source of news and opinion to an under-served community. They have unimpressive websites and tiny offices. And they are surviving in a time when the news industry is in trouble. They will continue to survive, and not just because they are the only ones providing this service to this area.
Small community newspapers will be able to provide targeted advertising, the bane of the major metro.
They can react quickly to the changes in technology and society.
They live in the areas they write about.
I don’t want to say that tiny papers are the future of journalism, because the future for journalism will not be any one thing. The future will depend on each community, and how the community interacts with the producers of journalism.
I am saying that this model seems to be working really well for this particular community. And it’s important to look at what is working where, and see what can be applied in other areas.