Tampa Tribune Cuts 5% of Staff, Goes Hyperlocal

Via Lost Remote

The Tampa Tribune announced today that it’s cutting or outsourcing approximately 70 positions — just over 5 percent of its staff. At the same time, the Tribune said it’s planning to launch “a number” of hyperlocal and community sites as extensions of TBO.com. “Our newspaper is experiencing the challenges of changing reader needs and fundamental shifts in spending by our traditional advertisers,” said Denise Palmer, president and publisher. “We are reducing resources in areas that are in decline and investing in areas of growth, including local news and the Internet,” she said. The Tribune, WFLA and TBO.com have been a model of convergence — they share a newsroom — yet declining revenue on the newspaper side is taking its toll.

Three hyperlocal sites have already launched — Brandon News, Suncoast News-Pasco and Suncoast News-Pinellas. “Basically, we’re turning all of our zone/weekly reporters into online producers, so that they think online first and print second,” said TBO.com VP/GM Randy Coats. TBO’s staff will jump from 14 on the content side to 40+. The secret? “A pretty turn-key CMS that they run without TBO intervention.” A dozen more sites are expected to launch this summer.

Paid Content had this to say on the concept of hyperlocal: “In essence, hyperlocal sites are the online version of zoned editions, designed with the theory that people care more about “their” news than that of the entire area. Zoning in print is usually costly and doesn’t always pay off; some of the grandest zoning efforts are being dismantled or retooled for those very reasons. Hyperlocal sites stand a greater chance of success because they are much less expensive to produce and can be even more local than print editions.”

What it means: interesting analogy brought forth by Staci Kramer at Paid Content. Hyperlocal sites are the online equivalent of zoned newspaper editions. Something that makes no financial sense in print but can exist online because of the lower execution costs. I wonder if the strategy might not be to have a strong umbrella print brand in one city and go very hyperlocal online in your various city neighborhoods with a multitude of smaller branded destination sites. Print could drive the regional content while online would drive the hyperlocal one. Both medium would benefit from each other’s efforts by re-using their respective content… Hmmm… Food for thought.

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