Since its launch online just nine months ago, York’s One&Other has attracted attention locally and further afield for its ambitious mix of culture and news for the city. This month saw it launch a magazine and there’s even a television station in the pipeline. I asked managing director Stuart Goulden about how the hyperlocal initiative was developing.
First, I wanted to know who was involved in One&Other and why they set it up?
One&Other was born out of equal part frustration at what local media had become and passion for what it could be. We’re representative of the generation that are completely disengaged with their local newspaper yet still maintain a desire to make the most of their town or city and to give something back. When I say “we”, I am referring to myself, Vicky Parry (our Editorial Director), Ben Osborne (our Community Director), and the 100 or so people that now contribute to One&Other in York.
I’m interested in the fact you’ve set up as a social enterprise, what was the thinking behind that?
We believe local and hyperlocal media have a job to not only inform, but also to inspire and empower communities for good. As a Social Enterprise, we are held accountable to clear community objectives and by reinvesting our profits into achieving these (as oppose to simply satisfying shareholders) our model can only become stronger. It’s important we learn from the mistakes of traditional local media who opted for the latter and find a better way
What’s the business model?
We’re proving that it isn’t a zero sum marketplace by reaching out to new audiences and starting to grow the market. Our business model is centred on satisfying these audiences better than the competition with a lower cost base and applying the same imagination to the promotion of local businesses as you’ll find in our approach to our editorial. We’re also incredibly optimistic about the opportunities beyond advertising.
You’ve mentioned online that “Out goes the negative news agenda”. What does that actually mean? Are you only publishing good news?
At our core is a purposely different editorial agenda and philosophy. We sacrifice certain stories, such as car crashes and petty crime, in order to offer more insightful news and culture content, and to package these beautifully for our readers. We don’t shy away from difficult issues, it’s more than we try and be part of the solution too.
Our observation was that the unnecessarily doom and gloom agenda often pursued by traditional local media was neither reflective of the city we live in nor particularly effective as a draw to potential readers. That’s not to say we simply need to be celebrating the good all the time, rather offering solutions to important issues and encouraging our readers to do the same. Side by side, it’s the media outlet who is trying to advance the city in collaboration with the community that will win audiences, and deservedly so.
How does the TV, magazine and blog all fit together?
We enjoy a daily relationship with our readers online and monthly in print, with TV a natural extension of what we were already doing in partnership with Parashoots. It’s important to note that each carries bespoke content and we can never be accused of churning content from ourselves across platforms, let alone anybody else.
Encouragingly for us we’re only just warming up and we’re excited about where we can take all three and better integrate them.
…..and finally – which other cities are you expanding into?
We’ve clearly a lot still to do in York, however we are working hard to refine a model that can create work elsewhere. When we launched in September 2011, we publicly voiced an ambition to be in seven cities in three years and we’ve seen no reason yet why we can’t achieve that. As to where, we’re keeping an open mind.
* Do you run a hyperlocal site that you’d like to see featured here? Drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or please do feel free to nominate sites via the comments below.