Business model options for small local daily papers

Claudia Elliot, ex-Editor of the Porterville Recorder, our local paper, and current Editor and General Manager at Tehachapi News joined a facebook discussion on the Recorder’s page today. The discussion is regarding the usefulness, appropriateness, and value of online news delivery of news vs. sticking with traditional print distribution and she asked the insightful question:

Have to wonder, what would a person be willing to pay for such a service — people who go out and gather news and take photos and develop and maintain an infrastructure for others to be able to access? What would most people be willing to pay?

I responded:

One that has not been asked here before!

My own sense is that there are a couple of suppositions in that question that should be considered:

1) Do people in Porterville read local news at all? Clearly many don’t. That’s kind of a shame. I (and probably you) wish it was 100%. But it isn’t, and there are a lot of socio-econoimic reasons for that mostly beyond the control of the paper.

2) Whether people read local news or not, they increasingly get their news online, and the demographic of folks still wedded to the print edition are probably older and so it won’t last forever.

3) The idea that people have paid for “news” in the past is an open question in the industry, as you might know. Some posit that people paid for the ads, the gossip, the entertainment, the comics, the puzzles, and that the news was incidental. At least after say ~120 years ago when comics and modern advertising were invented.

4) So it may well be that adverting as a sustaining source of revenue may not ever support a news-only site. And as for those other categories of information online, it is already clear people won’t be looking ot newspaper sites for them in any appreciable amount.… Read the rest

Kickstarting Porterville Nightlife….

Here is one solution to the lack of nightlife in Porterville, and it is an organic one – Sonny Sell, a local promoter is on a good track noticing the otherwise underused park across from City Hall.

One likely doesn’t need permits if one simply shows up and starts playing music -e.g. busking.

Let some of the many fine musicians in Porterville practice and gather inspiration under the music mural and statue of Buck Shaffer on the Clock.

When word gets out that there are musicians there, people will come to listen.

When there are enough musicians around the park, people will stroll and wander.

And when the musicians get the attention, they will stay late.

All of this under the First Amendment.

Let it happen every night, with more fun on weekends, Fri, Sat for example.

Let Porterville get a reputation as a place where creative musicians play and meet each other.

Other artists will come, locally, and from far away, and they will have things to share, and maybe services to sell for tips like the musicians.

Soon, people will want to make a night of it, and that means eating dinner or getting snacks to bring to the park. A restaurant or two will start to think about staying open to accommodate that, and maybe some pushcarts or food trucks will show up.

Maybe even the food trucks will start to offer the creative truck cuisine that other cities have leading nightlife efforts there…or other creative food places such as Crave Bakery on Main Street will step up!

Maybe some of the crowd will wander to the Brickhouse or Mecca, and vice versa, and those few blocks will start to show some human activity after 5PM.

Eventually, maybe the musicians and artists will want to start being here around each other because they are benefiting from the collaborations.… Read the rest

Local paper “disturbed” by low turnout, does not understand own role

…but I am not too shy to tell them some of the reasons:

See article here

Why didn’t people vote, especially when the city council made headlines more than once in the past year for antics better left to a vaudeville show or a sitcom.

Easy answer: Because the Recorder has abdicated its civic reporting responsibilities many times:

1) You posted a video of a TCSO officer misbehaving and admitting that he knew he was misbehaving. That was good. But it only lasted about 24 hours as a more senior TCSO officer asked the paper to pull the video, which you promptly did.

2) You have never pressed Councilmembers, especially those running for election on any controversial matters. The town has been hurt for almost 4 years as a result of Ward and Hamilton working to take away the rights of gays. And Hamilton’s flip-flop from his 2003 vote, when he pledged Council to work against what he urged the 2008 Council to do has never been reported. In fact, the Recorder took the page offline that reported the 9/2003 meeting I refer to.

3) Hamilton again: You have never followed up regarding his odd behavior during the arrest of the previous publisher of the Recorder.

4) You have never reported on the discovery, made quite plain on the Recorder facebook page by Case Lok and others, that Rodney Martin had posted materials with his view on the impropriety (to day the least) of the mixing of races in public and homophobic reasons why he homeschools his kids. Not only ought that have been news, but why he never mentioned it in his campaign ought to have been news as well.

5) You have never run or lent your voice to a sustained voter registration drive or get out the vote drive.… Read the rest

Don Curlee: Blind leadership frustrates farmers, red-baiting 1950s style the answer

Visalia Times-Delta columnist joins in the Red Bating fad  as though that will solve anything

Farmers have no monopoly on honesty, because that character trait is rooted in the country’s founding principles. But those roots have grown strong and deep in agriculture. Farmers are wondering why honesty doesn’t have a higher priority among political representatives.

If Marxism is a politician’s ultimate destination, he or she ought to be forthright enough to say so. Don’t count on it; saying and doing what is expedient instead makes them more electable.

Many politicians are taking large numbers of people with them to their secret collectivist destinations. Very few farmers want to go there.

via Don Curlee: Blind leadership frustrates farmers | | Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Advance-Register.

Geez “marxism”, “communism”, “socialism” – is red-baiting in the red states and counties going to be the rule of the day for a while? I am sure that is a great tactic to get your own people elected and listened to.

If farmers are such great capitalists and free marketeers, how about they look at the industry structure that they have wrought over the last 100 or so years since this land was settled? If they are so transparent, how about they share what they have learned?

The problem is that farmers have dug themselves a hole at the bottom of a heap of a distribution channel, and a complex supply chain, and as such they have no (or limited) economic leverage.

Take a look at the recent raisin price it was announced that farmers will get for their crop this year – divide the dollars by ton to get a price per ounce, then go to your favorite retailer to see what the retail price per ounce is. The difference is what the market perceives as the value added in all of the steps of the supply chain beyond the farmer.… Read the rest

Schwarzenegger signs gay rights bill SB 54 now law

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed two gay rights bills, one honoring late activist Harvey Milk and another recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.

In the last of hundreds of bill actions taken before midnight Sunday, Schwarzenegger approved the two bills by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.

The governor last year vetoed the measure declaring May 22 a state day of recognition for Milk, suggesting that the former San Francisco supervisor be honored locally. But he subsequently named him to the California Hall of Fame.

Leno’s SB 54, meanwhile, requires California to recognize marriages performed in other states where same sex marriage is legal.

In a signing message, Schwarzenegger said California will not recognize the couples as married but will “provide the same legal protections that would otherwise be available to couples that enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships out-of-state. In short, this measure honors the will of the People in enacting Proposition 8 while providing important protections to those unions legally entered into in other states.”

via Schwarzenegger signs gay rights bills – Latest News –… Read the rest

Porterville this is aimed right at you!

Local Tulare County Professor Professor Robin McGehee is co-Director of the event, streaming now. Porterville City Council, watch what you have wrought!

RT @unitethefight: Coverage of National Equality March has started on C-SPAN!! #NEM

C-SPAN offers gavel to gavel coverage of the U.S. House of Representatives. C-SPAN also offers a variety of public affairs programming including congressional hearings, press briefings from the White House, State Department and Pentagon, campaign and election coverage, and international programming.
Read the rest

Porterville Council’s Hate Vote Sparks a National Movement

We urge the Porterville California City Council to reverse its explicit and implicit rejection of its rights-affirming 2001 Resolution in the Wake of the Patriot Act. Your September 2008 Resolution asking constituents to vote to remove existing rights from a minority of people has and is damaging the City’s valuable reputation, and has sparked a movement that has become national in scope.

n524467323_9875This weekend is the National Equality March  in Washington, DC – in support of the right of everyone to have equal protection under the laws. All relevant laws, particularly those laws related to marriage, military service, and health care are targeted.

Organized in a scant few months, and bringing the promise of more to come, this March has its roots right here in rural Tulare County, California and Porterville in particular.… Read the rest

Sharp Debate At High Court Over Cross On US Land

Debate Mirrors Ongoing Porterville Controversy in Murray Park

“I have been in Jewish cemeteries,” Eliasberg continued. “There is never a cross on a tombstone of a Jew.”

From: Sharp debate at high court over cross on US land – Yahoo! News.

This case mirrors a  current situation in Porterville,  one of many that our City has managed to generate in attempts to skirt the First Amendment’s Establishment clause.

Here in Murray Park, we have a Christian Cross, where Easter Sunrise Services are annually helped on City-owned and run parkland.

If only our City could devote as much energy to innovative thoughts and solutions to real civic issues, such as:

  1. Poor use of information technology (IT) by City Hall
  2. Abysmal education rate
  3. The lack of a strategy for marketing Porterville as part of an economic development plan
  4. The lack of a sense of place and purpose in the new General Plan

Perhaps if we are all lucky, the Supreme Court will rule sensibly in this case and it will serve as a wakeup call to City leaders to find what makes Porterville best and competitive and to nurture that instead of the anti-First Amendment, anti-science, anti-equality hate they focus on so much.… Read the rest

Editor – Porterville Recorder Job in Porterville 93258

I guess Glen Faison, the current editor is moving on. Can’t say as I blame him.

This job opening from Monster just now came across my desk

Editor – Porterville RecorderAbout the JobThe Porterville Recorder, a 9,500 daily newspaper serving the central California valley, is seeking an experienced Editor to lead our 10-person team in covering community news and issues.

As usual, anything that comes out of the Recorder is of questionable accuracy. No way this paper is 9500 circulation, I was told by a “well placed insider” this past January that the circulation had dropped far below that by then. No comment on if there is a “10 person team” or not, although I am sure that more than 10 people are still employed by the paper.

Our candidate must have experience in covering a variety of beats and be comfortable in the role of mentor to young reporters.

That much is true – I was interviewed recently by a reporter who left the Recorder for the local weekly Sierra Messenger while still in (or having recently completed) High School. The other two news reporters are interns just out of college. They are eager and working hard from what I can tell, but they are very rough around the edges, never thinking to get opposing quotes even when covering a local story that is controversial and getting national attention.

A high degree of community involvement and direct reader engagement is required.​ We have renewed our focus on community news and the people in the communities we serve.​ The successful candidate must be able to balance an active role in the community with aggressive approaches to news, sports and feature coverage.​ As the editorial page editor, our Editor will write editorials and seek out the local voices necessary to build a lively discussion across multiple platforms.

Read the rest

Porterville General Plan

Download the Porterville General Plan Update here.

Earlier today I was looking for the Porterville City General Plan. It is difficult to find on the City’s own web site. Thanks to the City Officials who helped me find this important document, which cover’s the City’s vision of itself looking out to 2030.

Here is the Porterville General Plan update (64.3 mb pdf, be patient), and hopefully this will now be searchable in google so everyone so inclined can review and comment on this.… Read the rest

Porterville California City Council to Vote on Controversial Same-Sex Marriage Topic Yet Again

July 29, 2009
Porterville, CA

Continues to drain city resources and reputation

Former Mayor and current Councilmember Cameron Hamilton is scheduled to introduce a resolution asking the Council to condemn same sex marriage, this time using Mark Leno’s Senate Bill 54 as a hook, at the next Porterville City Council Meeting on August 4, 2009. The meeting will take place at 7PM at City Hall on Main Street in Porterville, deep in California’s Central Valley. Local Civil Rights advocates and leaders will be available for press comments both before and after the meeting.

Unlike last September’s resolution in support of Prop 8 introduced by Councilmember Brian Ward which passed unanimously with minimal public notice, Hamilton’s new attempt is happening in full view of Civil Rights advocates from Porterville and across the state. The local advocates have been present at every public meeting for months educating City Council and Portervillians on how Council’s September Resolution hurts individuals and places the ability of the City to do its ordinary business at risk.

At the July 21, 2009 City Council meeting Hamilton asked for permission to introduce a resolution regarding Senate Bill 54. SB 54, introduced by Mark Leno (D-SF) would allow same-sex couples who were married legally in another state but who are now in California all the rights rights that California grants married couples except the right to call themselves married. This is squarely in line with Prop 8 supporting campaign materials and rank and file comments that the issue is not the rights granted to the couples but rather the name “marriage”.

During the very heated discussion at the most recent Council meeting on July 21, new Mayor Pete McCracken, and Councilmen Pedro Martinez and Felipe Martinez echoed the advocate’s arguments that they have heard many times: that Council is not the place to discuss State and Federal level matters and that damages the City’s economic development efforts.… Read the rest

13 Cities Post Unemployment Above 15 Percent

Porterville-Visalia makes the Top 10- Again!

Bureau of Labor Statistics releases monthly metropolitan-area data,

via 13 Cities Post Unemployment Above 15 Percent – Yahoo! Real Estate.

First, a little explanation of the chart in the link, then a comment or two.

Although the chart says “Visalia, CA” at 15.4, it actually means VISALIA-PORTERVILLE METROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREA (MSA).

I wondered, with so many nearby locations on the list (in particular Hanford, but also Fresno, Modesto, and Stockton, how did Porterville manage to escape? Could it be just below the Top 13?

The answer turns out to be yes and no. I went in search of the raw data to see what it said for Porterville. First I found City Specific data for Tulare County in the form of a spreadsheet.

From that we learn that the data for Porterville and East Porterville (listed separately for some reason I don’t know, the areas are contiguous):

Monthly Labor Force Data for Cities and Census Designated Places (CDP)
April 2009 – Preliminary
Data Not Seasonally Adjusted
LaborEmploy-UnemploymentCensus Ratios
Area NameForcementNumberRateEmpUnemp
East Porterville CDP4,0003,20080020.4%0.0176150.024856
Porterville city22,00018,9003,10014.1%0.1050030.095011

So, depending on if we average E. Porteville in or not, Porterville would indeed be on the list. If we don’t average it in, Porterville would in fact be just below the Top 13, probably easily making the Top 20 in the Nation.

But I noticed in the same spreadsheet that the data for Visalia did not match the article above:

Visalia city57,00051,5005,5009.6%0.2863660.167197

So this must not be the same source of data.

Further searching led to this file (pdf) which does match the 15.4 for Visalia-Porterville.

(Tulare County)
The unemployment rate in the Tulare County was 15.4 percent in April 2009

So there you have it.… Read the rest