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MinnPost.com: Sign of the Times in Newspapers

Minnpost_2It's an understatement to say the newspaper business has been pummeled by the likes of Google, craigslist, etc.  Layoffs have been all to common as most newspapers continue searching for a viable model that works both online and in print.

Several displaced newspaper vets in Minnesota have decided to build a better mousetrap on their own.  This article explains how Joel Kramer, former Minneapolis Star Tribune publisher and editor, has launched a new venture called MinnPost.  Several other former newspaper employees have joined Kramer at MinnPost, an online service focusing on local news.  Visitors can read and post comments online or just download a PDF of the latest news to read offline.  MinnPost is a nonprofit with a revenue model built around advertising and donations.  In fact, the article compares it to the public radio/TV model where supporters make annual contributions.

I like the idea but I wonder if there's more strength in numbers...  Even though each one would focus on their local news, it seems like they could get a lot more visibility and traction if they were to create a federation of sites like this around the country.  The major newspapers are trying to become more local in their coverage, so it's a safe bet competition will be fierce.  I'd use a service like this to keep up with local happenings here in Indianapolis, but I'd also like to have a similar service for my hometown (Pittsburgh); I could see a customization feature that would let me designate the majority of my home page to Indianapolis news but save a column for the most popular Pittsburgh stories as well.  You could do this through RSS feeds today from each local newspaper but it would be much easier with a service where MinnPost is just one of many local feeds.

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