What is it going to take to find sustainability in the business of local news?

The future of local media business models is likely to be shaped by a variety of factors, including changing consumer habits, advances in technology, and new revenue streams. Here are some potential sources of inspiration for local media businesses looking to adapt and thrive in the years to come:

Embrace digital platforms

As more and more people consume news and other media online, local media businesses must find ways to deliver content across a variety of digital channels, including social media, mobile apps, and streaming services. By embracing these platforms, local media businesses can reach wider audiences and tap into new revenue streams, such as sponsored content, pay-per-view events, and digital advertising.

Focus on niche audiences

Instead of trying to be all things to all people, local media businesses may find more success by targeting specific niche audiences. This could include covering topics or interests, such as sports, food, or politics, or catering to specific demographic groups, such as seniors, millennials, or families. By focusing on specific niche audiences, local media businesses can build loyal followings and generate revenue through targeted advertising and sponsorships.

Experiment with new revenue streams

Traditional revenue streams for local media businesses, such as print advertising and subscriptions, may no longer be enough to sustain a profitable business. To adapt to the changing media landscape, local media businesses may need to experiment with new revenue streams, such as events, merchandise sales, and crowdfunding campaigns. By diversifying their revenue streams, local media businesses can reduce their dependence on any one source of income and create new opportunities for growth.

Collaborate with other media outlets

Local media businesses can also benefit from collaborating with other media outlets, both locally and nationally. By sharing resources, pooling audiences, and cross promoting each other’s content, local media businesses can expand their reach and create new opportunities for revenue sharing and sponsorships.

Invest in community engagement

Local media businesses have a unique opportunity to engage with their communities and build strong relationships with their audiences. By investing in community outreach, such as hosting events, partnering with local organizations, and soliciting feedback from readers and viewers, local media businesses can build trust, loyalty, and a sense of ownership among their audiences. This can lead to increased engagement, higher readership/viewership, and more opportunities for revenue generation.

What do you think?

Do you agree, or disagree, with any of the suggestions above? Personally, I think it all sounds worth trying, but that is beside the point. ChatGPT wrote those answers for me in about 10 seconds. I didn’t edit any of it.

Generative AI could be the most disruptive technology to our industry and our society since the arrival of the internet. Every discipline in our business will be affected, one way or another. We should all be studying, testing and sharing best practices, to find opportunities to improve how we can serve our communities. Perhaps this will cause the end of the world as we know it. But maybe this technology could help us unlock the value needed to find sustainability in the local news business.

Tom Shaw is first vice chair of the LMA Board of Directors, and chief product officer of Shaw Media.