By Delece Smith-Barrow
Last week I received a press release announcing the launch of DCentric, a web site about the intersection of race and class in D.C., and 11 other news sites under the NPR ARGO network. Since DCentric is an online-only news venture, this is definitely an entrepreneurial leap for radio-giant NPR. And since our class is focused on entrepreneurship and located right outside of the District, this web site is a great topic for us to discuss.
In the last two classes, Ken described the importance of content, distribution and monetization when starting a business within journalism. I’m going to use those same categories to take a closer look at DCentric.
Content – The site is very text heavy with photos accompanying many of the posts and very few videos. It’s written as a blog manned by a single blogger who writes short, quick posts. Aggregating content from other news sites and linking out seems to be a major priority. While its tag line says the site was created to “examine the ways race and class interact in a city with a vibrant mix of cultures and neighborhoods,” many of the posts discuss neither topic. Readers can learn about everything from the number of smartphone robberies on the Metro to the latest parenting blog born in Georgetown. It will be interesting to see if more blog posts discuss race and class as the site evolves.
Distribution – Unlike most startups, DCentric has the backing of a major news organization which it can use to distribute its content. At the web site for WAMU, the local NPR station, there’s a link to DCentric, and the press release notes that NPR.org and third party sites can also use the content. DCentric also uses Twitter to share its content and drive people back to the site. I haven’t listened to NPR in a few days, but I’m wondering if there are radio ads for it as well.
Monetization – It’s hard for online news organizations to be profitable, and I’m not sure how DCentric will approach that challenge. I’m guessing some money will come from selling ads and generating lots of page views. The site has only been live since August, so there hasn’t been a lot of time for it to get page views. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it does in this area.
Today Matt Thompson of the NPR ARGO Project will come to Georgetown to discuss DCentric and other details behind ARGO. Hopefully he’ll elaborate more on all three of these topics, and let us know what to do if we’re interested in launching our own news web site.