Does independent and local media matter, anymore? Re: Huffington Post takes on local web sites in Chicago, Denver.

Via on Aug 8, 2009

Does independent and/or local media matter, anymore? Is it worth supporting?

Huffington Post continues to go after local media markets.

People really don’t care about local, independent business. They think they do. But this morning, a colleague at a green-minded, progressive business emailed myself and 20 leading green, LOHAS-style colleagues and said, hey, Huff Post is starting a Colorado edition, if you want to blog for them contact ‘em! My response:

Thanks, T. As a longtime colleague, you may realize their entry into Colorado represents competition for independent, Colorado-based media for Colorado ad dollars.

K’s kindly invited me on board. I look forward to meeting with them, and have offered some small advice on the name (as of now, they’re calling it Huff Post ‘Denver,’ which may not fully engage Boulder, Ft. Collins etc). It’s exciting seeing them come to town–I’ve been blogging for Huff Post for a year, and I love working with ‘em. We’ll see how it goes—I look forward to a cooperative rather than competitive relationship. ~ Yours, Way

Now, as mentioned I’ve already been invited to blog for the local edition, and I’ll do so—if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and there’s no way elephant can stand up to Huff Post. I’ve also been blogging, unpaid, for their national edition for over a year (in fact, my latest went up last night at 10 pm) and have enjoyed it thoroughly. They may not edit half as much as big media should—I don’t seem to even have a human contact over there, these days, making me promote my Huff Post articles less via elephant, twitter and facebook since they’re unevenly promoted over there.

But still, well I’m a huge fan of Arianna, and feel like Huff Post is one of the few media (old or new) to really get how to rock the new media world. Republican or Democrat, love ‘em or hate ‘em, agree or disagree, Huff Post is playing major league ball.

huffington post colorado waylon lewis

But when they come into local media world, as they’ve done in Chicago and NY, and now Colorado (they haven’t tackled California, strangely, yet, or Texas—some of the other big media markets) they ain’t playing nice. Pick on someone your own size, they told us in kindergarten.

Independent media has declined by more than 50% in the last 60 years. My idol Arianna Huffington may yet have one more claim to fame—indie media killer. Indie media was called, by no less than Jefferson, essential to a well-functioning democracy. The “fourth estate” is meant to be a watchdog, not a lapdog. And since Huff Post has begun taking on investment, and by all signs may continue to do so, Arianna’s control may wane. It certainly will fall into other hands over the next 10 years, in any case, as she may look to retire (or run for Governator again, who knows with her!).

boulder magazine tom brock biba independent media elephantjournal.comkgnu sam fuqua biba independent media elephantjournal.com stewart sallo boulder weekly

elephantjournal.com and I were honored to be included in an independent media panel, hosted by BIBA, on the downtown Boulder Pearl Street Mall recently. To my left: Tom Brock, founder of Boulder Magazine and Home & Garden. To my right, Stew Sallo of Boulder Weekly, and Sam Fuqua of KGNU.

Update: a great video via Rocky Thompson for BIBA!

BIBA LocalFest – Media from Rocky Thompson on Vimeo.

+++

Given that national media is now consolidated, and nearly all owned by just a few different companies, local media may well be the last bastion of a free press. In Boulder, we have Boulder Magazine, Boulder Weekly, KGNU, elephant, a few other smaller pubs. Nationally owned publications, or franchises, include The Daily Camera, Colorado Daily, ReDirect Guide (which I dig), Edible Front Range (which I love), The Onion (which I LOL)….and now Huff Post.

Who do you love? Who you gonna support with your ad dollars? Gaiam, a huge LOHAS/yoga/green business that I’ve worked with for seven years (but has only occasionally advertised), has made its answer clear. No ads on independent, Colorado-based elephant—even though our traffic, twitter and Fbook followings are strong, and growing fast. Below, an ad on Huffington Post. Click it if you’d like to support ‘em.

gaiam ad huffington post

Now, look, I realize nothing’s going to stop big companies from picking on little companies where money is to be made. This is Capitalism, folks, love it or leave it. And I can’t blame big green companies from advertising with big media companies, particularly companies as cool (and I mean that) as Huff Post. I just wish that advertisers would also take care to support the demographic-appropriate little guy, too—especially when the little guy is playing AAA ball, and may make the majors soon enough, and will remember who helped him along the way.

Yours,

Waylon “near-future Green Talk Show host” Lewis

Waylon Lewis is the founder of elephantjournal.com

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About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom

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10 Responses to “Does independent and local media matter, anymore? Re: Huffington Post takes on local web sites in Chicago, Denver.”

  1. Comment from Huffington Post friend of mine:

    Awesome -it's great. I'll forward it to Huff. Looking forward to getting together. My favorite line: "And I can’t blame big green companies from advertising with big media companies, particularly companies as cool (and I mean that) as Huff Po"

    And my reply:
    Good. I hope it came off as constructive, which (particularly as long as Arianna is in control) I genuinely feel. I just want Huff to stay independent.

    btw, I sent this out via twitter, and it's been RTed two dozen times already…now just about everyone in Boulder/Denver knows you're comin' to Colo, that elephant is working with you, how's that for a little free press? – W.

  2. via a Colorado-local twitterer, where it's still getting RTed:
    You're awesome, Way! Thanks for the shout-out, and for the balanced article. Personally, I think it's cool that you blog for their natl ed..

    …I'll definitely forward this. Should be some interesting responses!

    My response:
    yah, national is verrry different than local. Nationally, u compete 4 nat'l advertisers w nat'l media. Locally…

  3. tom says:

    Huff Post doesn't have enough local readership to dent local media. Anyway, what prole is gong to bother with something (someone) named "Huffington?"

    • They don't have enough local readership–yet. They're already magnetizing writers and will magnetize readers that, due to their name recognition, elephant can't. That said, all's fair in love and media!

  4. The takeover of anything local is quite insidious, no matter how great it looks from the outside. Local is just that – local. The jobs, the money, the supplies, the heart, it all stays in this place rooted in people and landscape. No large media outlet, no large anything will ever have the commitment to "we the local people" that elephant, or Boulder Weekly, or Boulder Mag have.

    And what will we do with our sense of place when we wake up in twenty or so years to one bank, one retailer, one media outlet, even one political party!?

    Thanks for listening to the rant. I am very committed to local – the real local, where you walk down the street and greet your friends and colleagues, where you commit your dollars and your energy.

    Full disclosure here – I am very involved with Boulder Independent Business Alliance – BIBA. They are the hope of us little "guys".

  5. I suppose we can break it down into local for local audiences and local for national audiences. Can Huff Post Denver be leveraged to develop a national audience for goods/services/issues based in Colorado? What can we use them for to help locals?

    I suppose one area might be tourism. Can they reach a national audience and get them to visit and thus benefit the Colorado economy?

  6. Another example of "eco" folks not thinking local (BCBR is great but no longer independently owned)

    THE BOULDER COUNTY BUSINESS REPORT

    joins forces with…

    NATURALLY BOULDER

    The 5th Annual Naturally Boulder Days will be held on September 2nd and
    3rd at the Millennium Harvest House Hotel. And, The Boulder County
    Business Report is publishing the first ever Natural Book (four color
    stand alone publication) exclusively for this event!

    The Natural Book is the ONLY publication to feature a full list of
    the local companies – including addresses, contact info and product or
    service descriptions in Boulder County. Alongside the comprehensive
    directory, will be editorial on recent trends in the industry, spotlight
    on local companies and more!

    Publishing Date: September 2, 2009
    Closing Date for ads: August 21, 2009

    Circulation:
    6,500 to our subscribers
    400 mailed to the folks in the directory
    400 issues to be distributed at the Naturally Boulder Event
    Total Circulation: 7,300+

    Get your products and services in front of the right crowd, folks who are
    interested in Natual Products! And we are giving folks a screaming deal
    on ads.

    These rates are 65% off the open rate!!!! And we can build your ad for
    you…

    Full page: $1,100
    Half page: 625
    1/4 page : 480
    1/8 page : 275

    Remember these rates include four color!!! Please do let me know ASAP as
    time is closing in on us for the deadline.

    Best,

    Louise March
    The Boulder County Business Report

  7. [...] David Bolduc, a family friend and founder of the Boulder Bookstore (and BIBA, which we sponsor, see ad at left), just called my cell while I was putting together a Rat Packy [...]

  8. Thanks, Everett. I've really appreciated working with you and Gaiam—and hope you all can consider that the indirect benefits of targeting demographic-appropriate, grassroots media—like our dozens of articles and reviews and all that mention you—are benefits you don't get from…Acerno.

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