The challenges facing locally and nationally owned publications are the subject of a post on the Online Journalism Review website by Robert Niles, who follows up on a previous post in which he questions the future of AOL’s hyperlocal start-up Patch.com and other national chains.
Niles ha previously claimed that locally-owned publications today have cost advantages which outweigh the “economies of scale” of national chains of local publishers. But pushed by a reader to come up with advantages for national chains which could make them more profitable, he puts forward two ideas as a starting point for further debate, shown in summary below.
A smart, focused national training program could help reduce the time it takes a local editor to produce an engaging website. Local website publishers who don’t have access to such training will take longer to get up to speed.
Search engine optimization
A national chain can give its local publishers an advantage by arranging for aggressive cross-linking among its sites. That creates a potentially huge number of inbound links, helping push the chain’s sites ahead of its local competitors. In addition, by building a national brand for local news, the chain might be able to elicit more in-bound links to its sites from outside the network.