Compass looks north — way north — for its first launch partner
It’s been five weeks since we announced that the first Compass Experiment site was coming to Youngstown, Ohio and since then, we’ve been hard at work building that idea into a plan.
When we first set out to start The Compass Experiment, we knew we would be testing not only different editorial approaches and revenue models, but also products and platforms. We knew that what might work in one place wasn’t going to be ideal for the next, so we would need to carefully select the right combination for every Compass city.
In seeking a partner for our first experiment in Youngstown, we looked North of the Great Lakes and found kindred spirits in Village Media.
Village Media started as a single hyperlocal news site in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and has grown into a network of small, community news sites that spread across Canada. Using their own high-performing platform, Village powers 11 owned-and-operated sites and 15 partner sites (and counting). In their expansion, Village Media has typically moved into cities where the local newspaper has recently closed, quickly launching a new source of local news written by journalists in the community.
We’ve been working closely with CEO Jeff Elgie and his team to plan the buildout and launch for the Youngstown site, which will be Village Media’s first in the United States. For a bit of inspiration, our team at Compass recently traveled to Sault Ste. Marie to learn the inner workings of Village’s first site, SooToday.com.
The Village Media platform is appealing because it is purpose built for local news operations like ours. Their sites are fast, mobile browser responsive and easy to navigate, and also include features such as classifieds, obituaries, autos, auctions and voluntary pay.
Aside from the platform itself, Village Media are worth emulating because their most mature sites are profitable. In addition to adopting Village Media’s look and feel, we also plan to adopt elements of their revenue strategy, which includes local digital advertising and content sponsorship.
The Village team prides itself on quickly being able to build and launch new websites. This is why we are confident we will be able to launch the Youngstown site in the next 60 days.
In the meantime, we are finalizing hires for our local and central teams, talking with local readers and building out other elements of our strategy.
Check back soon for more updates on the name of the Youngstown publication as well as the finalized launch date.
Mandy Jenkins is the General Manager for The Compass Experiment, a local news laboratory founded by McClatchy and Google to explore sustainable business models for local news. Read more about us in our past Medium posts.