AOL has gotten a lot of press about its new CEO Tim Armstrong and its attempt to revitalize its presence in media, particularly local media. But as VentureBeat's Dean Takahashi wrote last week, as AOL rushes into local news, it will likely run smack into Examiner.com.
If Examiner.com sounds familiar to Vancouverites it's likely because it is owned by Clarity Digital Group and is a property of Denver-based The Anschutz Company. The company that bought Vancouver's NowPublic this time last year for a reported $25 Million.
NowPublic co-founder Leonard Brody is now president of Clarity Digital and Takahashi interviewed him for the VentureBeat piece.
Started in the spring of 2008, Examiner.com now has 19 million unique visitors a month and 54 million page views a month for its local news and reviews.
"There is a lot of talk about AOL and how they are doing cover local communities with Patch," said Leonard Brody, president of Clarity Digital. "We feel like we are already there."
While there are some professional news journalists producing material, most of its is produced by 55,000 amateur writers who know the local neighborhoods that they're writing about. It's applying the concept of crowdsourcing, tapping the wisdom of the masses, to journalism though in Examiner.com's case, the amateur writers are all paid based on ad revenues and measures of engagement with their stories.
The rush is on to claim the turf of hyperlocal news and advertising, where billions of dollars are at stake. Newspapers are dying, yet no one has come to replace them in local online markets. Examiner.com deliberately avoids the role of being an online newspaper, whose role is more like being the watchdog of a community. Rather, Brody sees his company's role more as reinventing the town square.
"We want to connect those who are passionate about their own community," he said in an interview.
Examiner.com's approach seems to be working. The company started with just six markets covered by 100 examiners and now the company serves 238 markets in the US and Canada.
Photo: Canada Talent