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KSTP to debut hyper-local Twin Cities websites

Riffing off Seattle’s KOMO-TV, Hubbard Broadcasting plans to debut 80-90 hyper-local Twin Cities websites in the next few weeks, using KSTP.com as the portal.

Riffing off Seattle’s KOMO-TV, Hubbard Broadcasting plans to debut 80-90 hyper-local Twin Cities websites in the next few weeks, using KSTP.com as the portal. Hubbard will do the same in Duluth and Rochester, where it owns WDIO and KAAL, respectively.

How micro are the sites? For example, Minneapolis will have eight or nine, and St. Paul “about seven,” says KSTP Creative Services Director Paul Gaulke.

And the content on these neighborhood nodes? Gaulke predicts 80-90 percent will initially come from TV folk. “A lot of the news that comes in to a newsroom, like press releases, never gets on the air,” he says. “The true beauty is finding groups of people interested in the area, and small advertisers who are interested in following.”

A site filled with micro-releases sounds pretty deadly to me, and it’s not like shrinking newsrooms aren’t hard-pressed as it is. Still, Gaulke notes there will be reporter content (think early iPhone photos from a neighborhood fire in advance of the bigger TV story) and eventually, user-generated postings. You can check out KOMO’s site for Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood here.

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That site, and especially the forum, doesn’t exactly crackle, and even community papers — legacy-media bastions of local, local, local — have found digital revenue nearly impossible to come by. But what the heck, experimentation is compulsory in the digital era, TV is nothing if not a marketing megaphone, and KSTP will be hiring a couple of full-timers and some part-timers to make it go.

Gaulke says KSTP will have exclusive local rights to the underlying technology, from Bellevue, Washington-based DataSphere. KOMO’s owner, Fisher Communications, is a major DataSphere investor. In January, Fischer boasted 1,000 advertisers for 100 hyper-local sites — evidence of a broad, new niche for a medium used to mass advertising. It’s important to note Fisher did not disclose how much revenue those micro-ads added up to.