By Jessica Durkin
After a content-sharing agreement with the area newspaper didn’t pan out last year, independent hyperlocal publisher David Boraks of DavidsonNews.net in North Carolina turned to his radio experience and contacts in a new partnership with the local public broadcasting station.
Boraks teamed with NPR affiliate WFAE 90.7 in March after ending an experimental news alliance with The Charlotte Observer newspaper last year when he noticed there was little return on the agreement with the paper. (Disclosure: The author of this article is on the board of directors of a community radio station in Scranton, PA)
“From my standpoint, [the news partnership] ended up being a way for The Observer to use our content for free,” Boraks said. “We had little traffic – there was no noticeable jump in traffic.”
Boraks has a background in radio broadcasting and has been a part-time staffer and weekend substitute anchor for WFAE since 2007. He saw a news void at the station that he felt Davidson News could augment, while the station could provide extra coverage for Boraks’ sites.
Further, WFAE has a listenership of about 200,000 people per week over an approximately eight-county coverage area, potentially providing more marketing exposure for his news sites, Boraks said.
“It’s a way to expand coverage in areas we couldn’t get at easily covering county government, school news and regional issues,” Boraks said. “As a very local website, we pay attention to what’s happening in our back yard, but we do have regional readers.”
Boraks said if he is already covering a town meeting for his site, he takes an audio recorder and produces a short segment for the station. He is training one of his hyperlocal editors on audio production.
“It’s a little extra work for us but the payoff for us with part of this partnership is they use our copy and read our name on the air, and for a start-up it’s invaluable,” Boraks said. “The most important thing is brand recognition. That’s first and foremost [over traffic building]. We know people are hearing it and we know the more that happens, the more they will come to our site.”
Boraks started DavidsonNews.net in 2006 to cover Davidson — a town of nearly 10,000 residents 20 miles north of Charlotte – and in March launched a sister site, CorneliusNews.net, to cover the nearby community of Cornelius .
Boraks said he has taken lessons learned from the Observer alliance and is doing things differently with the radio station, such as keeping the contract to a single page with loose content sharing criteria and not imposing story sharing quotas.
“I believe that radio and the web are natural partners in a way that other news media maybe are not,” Boraks said. “You can hear something on the radio and look it up on a website; you have an audience listening every day.”
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