Media

Lights Out for OpenFile Hamilton

By RTH Staff
Published November 18, 2011

this blog entry has been updated

It's official: OpenFile Hamilton is shutting down as of this Monday, November 21.

Wilf Dinnick, CEO of OpenFile, posted an editorial today in which he wrote: "With great sadness, after nearly a year of operation in the Hammer, I'm sorry to say we won't publish new content on the Hamilton site after Sunday's CFL game."

No new content will be published to OpenFile Hamilton after that point, but existing articles "will remain online indefinitely." Dinnick explained that OpenFile's readership has grown in every city but Hamilton, and that the fledgling news organization must "focus our resources where we are successful."

In an email to contributors, Hamilton editor Sheryl Nadler wrote, "Despite our best efforts to drive traffic -­ and we tried just about everything -­ we were just not seeing the amount of growth for which we had hoped."

Update: Wilf Dinnick responded to an email from RTH asking why he thinks readership stagnated in Hamilton when it grew in the other OpenFile cities:

We don't know, obviously. I would have loved to have given Hamilton another year to grow, but we had to be honest when we looked at the metrics. The message, for whatever reason, was that this was not working right now in Hamilton. One important part of running a startup is to ensure we are able to pivot quickly and shift our resources to what works.

I was walking on James Street North the other day, stopped by the Hawk and Sparrow, had a tea at the Mulberry café, visited Mixed Media, and I thought this is one of the many communities that would suit OpenFile. So we are a bit confused why we didn't get traction this time around, but we will try to learn from it.

We also asked him what he thinks needs to change for a Hamilton branch of OpenFile to succeed. He responded:

I want to be clear - this is not control-alt-delete. We are not taking down the Hamilton site. All the stories and user comments we've published over the past year will remain online. However, we are not publishing new content until we have a better understanding of how to proceed. We would very much like to be an active part of the Hamilton conversation again and to build an engaged audience.

Our success in other markets is telling us plenty about community and what works and what doesn't. We intend to keep tweaking that model to give the readers what they want.

We have an ambitious team and exciting plans for 2012. Unfortunately, we need to turn our attention away from Hamilton at this time.

Read about our contributors.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 09:34:37

That's terribly unfortunate, with the Spectator having recently introduced a paywall I would think Openfile would be posed for growth...

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By JM (registered) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 09:54:02 in reply to Comment 71398

thats too bad, i started reading openfile for exactly that reason... (and for the different viewpoint) but it also provided me with some news i couldn't see on the spec website

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By TnT (registered) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 09:38:07

This is terrible news. OpenFile is the greatest thing mediawise to come along since Raise The Hammer. Is there any recourse for keeping them going? This is a terrible, terrible blow for hamilton!

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2011 at 10:01:26

As a earlier supporter and promoter of OpenFile's expansion to Hamilton, I'm saddened by this news.

I wrote the first piece posted to their site and really saw the potential in the model.

They failed to find a voice and focused too much on being an extension of The Hamilton Spectator.

I was hopeful they would break news, they rarely did. When they did, they were rewarded with great traffic and community support.

Sadly, they were too focused on being aligned with TheSpec instead of being a healthy outlet of their own.

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By roadrash (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2011 at 10:56:36 in reply to Comment 71404

Their strategy was not totally invalid, considering Peggy Chapman's media chill regarding independent and citizen-driven news outlets. But, as we have seen, ultimately misguided. Too bad.

BTW - does the Spec know that their paywall doesn't actually work? Which, given the way The Spec operates, isn't entirely surprising ...

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2011 at 11:12:05 in reply to Comment 71407

OpenFile wrote against the open letter from RTH, myself, The Hamiltonian, CFMU, INDI 101, Urbanicity, and others expressing concerns about Ms. Chapman's attempts to ban independent media:

http://hamilton.openfile.ca/blog/2011/dr...

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By kendall (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 01:36:33 in reply to Comment 71411

"Unfortunately, though, when drawing up their petition, the city’s indie media outlets drew a line in the sand themselves. They made a distinction between themselves and who they see as “traditional” media outlets by not inviting everyone to the table to discuss the issues and wording of such a document. How can OpenFile endorse something of this nature without having been asked our opinion in its planning stages?"

Would you be taking pot shots at OpenFile if they did support RTH's less than Democratic open letter? You are one voice of many who oppose the closed mindedness of City Hall. RTH showed just as much arrogance in thinking that their opinions should speak for everyone.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 06:21:10 in reply to Comment 71508

The open letter never claimed to speak for everyone, but only only for its signatories and whoever else supported it. Nor did it claim to make an exclusive argument with respect to the City's media policy. It stated:

We, the undersigned, call on the City of Hamilton and the Mayor's Office to adopt a policy of openness and transparency that recognizes the right of ordinary Hamiltonians to access information and speak to local officials, in the spirit of democracy and civic engagement that is one of the hallmarks of this city.

And:

We believe firmly that any attempt to restrict access of the media to City Hall, whether professional or independent, would result in restricting the flow of open and transparent information to the general public, and inappropriately give political staff the unilateral ability to pick and choose who has access to information.

I am at a loss to understand how that might be regarded as "arrogance".

I should also point out that OpenFile was contacted when we were developing the statement, but they declined to participate in drafting it.

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By kendall (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 09:37:14 in reply to Comment 71509

God, wouldn't want to be considered a troll(sic) for offering a rebuttal to your position Ryan. Interesting statement, if in fact you do have email proof that OpenFile declined to participate in the draft it could change my opinion that your letter was only to help bolster RTH's own standing in line for access to City Hall. Sorry I don't see the letter as an attempt to join the alternative information sights into a united coalition to force City Hall into changing their definition of "media" in that RTH doesn't itself have a clear definition to the term. The need to have a staff and someone to call a boss position from Peggy Chapman is laughable, "media" to me can mean a group or single person who offers an informed opinion verbally or in print that can be backed by fact and confines itself to the laws of liable and slander. Over simplified, yes, but basically, anyone who wishes to follow the rules should be able to take part in a civil debate at City Hall along side the "media" and publish the results if they feel fit. Is it RTH's opinion that only their selected group of supporters should be allowed to speak for everyone, if this is in fact than I define that as "arrogance".

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 10:28:35 in reply to Comment 71514

I don't see the letter as an attempt to join the alternative information sights into a united coalition to force City Hall into changing their definition of "media" in that RTH doesn't itself have a clear definition to the term.

The joint statement called on the City to "adopt a policy of openness and transparency that recognizes the right of ordinary Hamiltonians to access information and speak to local officials, in the spirit of democracy and civic engagement that is one of the hallmarks of this city."

It was the Mayor's Chief of Staff who wanted to establish a narrow definition of "media" and to exclude any entity that did not meet her definition. Instead, the statement said that a City media policy should be "fair, clear, and does not allow political staff to unduly influence the free flow of information at City Hall."

City Manager Chris Murray responded, stating:

Both the Media Relations and Social Media Policies will be reviewed and revised by staff. The review will include another look at best practices across other municipalities, feedback from staff as well as current media contacts (i.e. our DL - News Media List), local independent media, and other online media.

This policy, along with the Media Relations Policy, will be reviewed by the Senior Management Team (SMT) in the summer, and once approved come to Council in the fall. It will include an implementation plan that will highlight any changes or additions that impact media or our citizens and it will be highlighted and communicated extensively.

To date, the City has not contacted RTH to ask for any feedback and we have not seen a draft review. I can't speak for other organizations.

Is it RTH's opinion that only their selected group of supporters should be allowed to speak for everyone

How could you possibly draw that conclusion from the Joint Statement, my comment on it above, or, for that matter, any other editorial position RTH has taken? It is RTH's position that citizens should be allowed to speak for themselves, and that they should be allowed to organize and get engaged around civic issues that are important to them. RTH neither has nor seeks any kind of monopoly on civic engagement.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-11-22 10:42:32

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 09:59:01 in reply to Comment 71514

We did one better than email. Matt Jelly personally approached and spoke repeatedly to OpenFile Hamilton's editor.

The letter was jointly signed by numerous independent locals - there was not attempt to speak for others.

RTH was not the lead on the open letter, they signed on.

The letter called for openness at City Hall.

I was approached to sign it and I gladly did.

I did so knowing the consequences to my standing within professional journalism.

I push for open data in all matters at City Hall (with the necessary privacy, legal, and other reasonable considerations)

I signed the letter because it was a strong stand in favour of access for all outlets.

I fail to see the arrogance in the letter.

Thanks,

  • Joey

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By kendall (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 10:31:41 in reply to Comment 71516

Excuse you for misunderstanding but your letter never states that this letter was not penned by RTH staff, than who did? That said, RTH was ever opportune and ran with the ball. My positions stand until proof is given, respectfully, Mr. Jelly's word can be hollow at times. I hope RTH get's their wish and is allowed to take part in the media scrums at City Hall. A credible in depth accounting of City Hall meetings is sorrily lacking in the media. I can't watch the meetings do to work, so an abridged minutes would be great, I can chew my own "food" I don't need someone dictating the news for me. P.S you and Joey should consider following Matt's journey into Hamilton politics, you both have poignant ways with delving into and doling out the facts.

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 11:06:31 in reply to Comment 71522

Mr. Jelly is very credible. I do understand where you are coming from. Mr. Jelly and I used to be like oil and water.

The idea originated with many. One of the great things about all those signatories is how we cooperate on a regular basis and respect each other. It's one of the things I love about Hamiltonians - we're a generous people. Content often moves between our sites and ideas are freely exchanged.

There had been attempts for a large gathering of the signatories last fall and talk about a coffee house or similar event.

I remember lots of discussion about each outlets planned response to the proposed policy. From that discussion, we realized were all had similar beliefs and that issuing a joint statement would be the best method of responding.

From there, a Google Document was opened and the joint statement emerged thanks to the hard work and heavy lifting of Mr. Jelly in putting it all together.

It was Mr. Jelly that brought everyone together and invited many to join in the statement.

Hope this clarifies.

Comment edited by JoeyColeman on 2011-11-22 11:10:30

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 10:39:35 in reply to Comment 71522

your letter never states that this letter was not penned by RTH staff, than who did?

The Statement opens with: "We, the undersigned..."

The signatories are listed at the bottom:

Joey Coleman
Journalist http://www.joeycoleman.ca

Teresa DiFalco
Publisher, The Hamiltonian http://www.thehamiltonian.net

Adrian Duyzer
Associate Editor, Raise the Hammer http://www.raisethehammer.org

Martinus Geleynse
Editor and Publisher, Urbanicity http://www.urbanicity.ca

Matt Jelly
Blogger http://www.mattjelly.com

Dave Kuruc
Publisher, H Magazine http://www.hmag.ca

Ryan McGreal
Editor, Raise the Hammer http://www.raisethehammer.org

James Tennant
Program Director, CFMU 93.3 FM http://cfmu.msumcmaster.ca/

Matt Thompson
Community Organizer

The letter was simultaneously published on RTH, The Hamiltonian and elsewhere.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-11-22 10:40:37

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By kendall (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 10:52:31 in reply to Comment 71523

"RTH was not the lead on the open letter, they signed on."

I didn't ask who signed it, I can read. I asked if you where not the "lead" ie. the people who had the original idea and drafted the letter. I am not talking about the people who agreed with you. I would ask them myself, and maybe I could get an answer.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 11:02:04 in reply to Comment 71524

Matt Jelly took the lead in organizing the Joint Statement. I was happy to participate because we shared similar concerns about the direction that City Hall communication seemed to be headed.

Also, I'm not sure if this is your intention, but your comments are coming across with a lot of hostility.

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By kendall (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 11:07:26 in reply to Comment 71525

Thank you, that's all I asked. Now fluffy kitties and rainbows to all. please consider that career in politics.

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 10:15:50 in reply to Comment 71516

Further, I'll add that The Hamilton Spectator was not approached, nor were any other for-profit media outlets.

OpenFile was the only for-profit approached.

In fact, we did not approach Cable 14. (The process to issuing the letter was very organic and we reached out to all of our networks of contacts.)

The Spectator ran the entire letter unedited on their website and placed in in their top line-up for two entire days. They wrote an editorial expressing concerns about the proposed policy and called for open access at City Hall.

Cable 14 read the letter on their For The Record program and had a lively debate about media policy at City Hall.

CHCH covered the letter as well.

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 13:54:49 in reply to Comment 71519

Might I offer a few hollow words to this discussion.

I communicated with Sheryl on this, originally I suggested that OpenFile do a story on it, and Sheryl wasn't immediately sure if it was something OpenFile wanted to cover. The same day, we began drafting the statement. The way we did it, we were basically inviting anyone who felt the same way to sign it with us- which includes other media outlets. We were pretty clear on that.

Sheryl wrote an opinion piece after consulting with her editors, and they decided not to sign the statement, which was absolutely their call to make. I think we felt that Peggy's comments were specifically directed towards bloggers/citizen journalists, etc., and wanted to respond to that. Not necessarily drawing a line in the sand, but rather responding to someone drawing that line for us. Sheryl and I had a very good discussion about it on the phone, both of us made fair points, and we agreed to disagree on a few things.

Anyway- this all happened more than 6 months ago, and I don't think it really has any bearing on the topic of OpenFile closing down.

What I will say is that I had the pleasure of working with OpenFile to do some local content, and Sheryl was a good editor in my experience- she kept my writing focused, but didn't over-edit any of my pieces either. It was a good arrangement.

As everyone probably knows, media is an increasingly tricky business, and everyone is under a crunch right now. Things don't always work out, and there's more to it than just who is at the helm- a big part of it is also the crapshoot of catching people's attention away from Bieber and America's Got Talent. They ought to be commended for giving the model a shot here. For the time that they were around, they paid a bunch of people well to do local content. I'm not going to nitpick on that.

And everybody should run for office sometime.

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 14:15:43 in reply to Comment 71530

Yes, definitely a better model than Patch.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 14:03:38 in reply to Comment 71530

I had the pleasure of working with OpenFile to do some local content, and Sheryl was a good editor in my experience - she kept my writing focused, but didn't over-edit any of my pieces either.

Seconded. I very much enjoyed writing for Sheryl. She's a sharp-eyed editor who provided helpful advice and guidance and taught me a lot about constructing a story. I hope we have opportunities to work together again in the future.

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 14:16:48 in reply to Comment 71532

Oh. And can everyone stop referring to me as "Mr. Jelly"?

It's freaking me out.

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 14:26:11 in reply to Comment 71534

Globe and Mail style - sorry buddy, but that's how I roll

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 14:24:58 in reply to Comment 71534

Whatever you say, sir!

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By z jones (registered) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 11:05:06 in reply to Comment 71407

Pandering to control freaks is never a good strategy.

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By Gabriel (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 11:00:55 in reply to Comment 71407

lol, proxy, refresh and stop, delete cookies.

the spec doesn't care if it works or not. This is actually Toronto Star Corp testing it on a small portion of the masses. When TorStar ever goes paywall, they will plug all these holes.

maybe openfile could do a story about the paywall...

oh wait.... maybe not.

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2011 at 11:15:26 in reply to Comment 71409

You gave them some great story ideas in January that OpenFile never followed up.

Ironically, you suggested looking into 275 King St W and they didn't.

Today, 275 King St W is a story and nobody is covering it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 12:01:24 in reply to Comment 71412

Yea, I'm not exactly sure where to pinpoint this, but they didn't grab me. Nothing really unique, nothing that you could ONLY get there. Plus, the Spec affiliations led me to believe it was just a Spec attempt to get an online presence. The letter against media being allowed at city hall further cemented this view.
Surprised the Spec doesn't try to scoop up their Hamilton site. It's better than the Spec site (no biggie there).

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2011 at 12:36:30 in reply to Comment 71414

The more I think about it, the more likely it seems that OpenFile's business model is to get bought out by Torstar in 18 mths (3yrs since their Toronto launch)

Much like IT start-ups work to get bought by Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook.

Hamilton and Waterloo have little value to Torstar for expansion.

Of course, we don't know who exactly on Bay Street is funding OpenFile, what the investors wish in return. It's a private start-up company.

Their Halifax, Vancouver, Calgary, and Ottawa operations can be quite valuable to Torstar in a sale.

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By roadrash (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2011 at 16:09:42 in reply to Comment 71415

They would, if TorStar actually understood the value and potential of digital/interactive/user relevant media.

But since they still see the interwebs as a way to push readers and (most importantly, from a financial standpoint) sellable subscriber data back to their "real" product, I wouldn't hold my breath.

BTW: Don't be misled by TD as the "founding sponsor". The real coin behind OpenFile is courtesy of their corporate partner, CGI.

Comment edited by roadrash on 2011-11-18 17:25:42

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By Gabriel (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 10:41:13 in reply to Comment 71404

oh my. hahahahahahahaha.

(joey, love the tag!!!)

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By CCC (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 10:58:54

I agree with Joey. THey should have focused on the data and info but some info was ont allowed.
Even my comments.

Ham has a toxix waste mess that is tainting it.
It has a high number of mentally ill and and under educated people and those with low job skills.

The city has many orgs but they seem mostly to intersted in getting money for basic programs but i see little in long term programs to bring those up out of poverty into better outcomes.

Cops, courts, cas, and the drug problem is outstanding in Hamilton. No one seems to care and then the Stadium. ah the secrecy of the govt in Hamilton. Canada is lacking in a true democracy. Really is an autocracy.

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By sourgrapes (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 13:54:46

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By Gabriel (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 14:11:29

this is about leadership and not readership.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 14:34:23

The intrepid Amy Kenny broke the story of Hamiltons backpackers being shut down on OpenFile. I am forever grateful for this. If it wasn't for online open source media like RTH, Hamiltonian, OpenFile we wouldnt exist today. The unfortunate facts are we will probably not be able to continue operations too much longer under the current restrictions, but the awareness was important and I hope Indy journalism will continue to promote the underdog. I fear the loss of one of the bigger free sources fading out.

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2011 at 14:35:55 in reply to Comment 71426

The introduction to Ms. Kenny's writing is one of the reasons I respect the OF model.

I didn't know her writing previously and am glad The Spectator runs her work regularly.

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By Brendan Simons (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2011 at 15:12:52

This was my first introduction to OpenFile Hamilton. I'm sad to see so many interesting articles, and know that there won't be any more. I wish I had seen this earlier (Maybe RTH should have had OpenFile in your links section?)

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By Inky Wretch (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2011 at 08:11:31

Nothing that pays contributors promptly ad at a professional grade will last for more than a year without either self-sustaining financing or a loopy philanthropist in the mix. It doesn't matter if it's open source journalism or not. (A more familiar alternative is the wannabe professional publication that promises payment but strings contributors along for months and months before payment is received, or simply screws them outright.) As such, I'm not shocked. T

The alternatives seem to be blogs/publications driven by advocacy or the self-interest of BIAs/commercial sectors. Whatever their achievements, they will always be somewhat compromised because of perception of bias (eg. promoting only those businesses that the publisher has a financial interest in, focusing light only on the areas of the city that serve to advance a defined agenda).

With everything increasingly boiled down to link love these days, I don't know that there's any clear avenue of escape from fast food media coverage. The theory around independent media is wonderful, but at some point you have to pay bils. That's why independents rise and fall on a regular basis. All examples of such locally are "extramural" ventures, viable mainly because of their creators' financial security and ready supply of spare hours. For all of its merits, a blog like RTH would have a hard time replicating its current content churn as a standalone private-sector publication that paid its contributors. (Apples an oranges, perhaps, bit The Huffington Post's whole business model seems to have amounted to selling a slave army of volunteer contributors to AOL... and that model was great for Ariana's bankbook but is riddled with holes: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/nov/06/huffington-post-aol-struggle )

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By Inky Wretch (anonymous) | Posted November 22, 2011 at 11:11:31 in reply to Comment 71442

"Spin, however, may be Huffington’s most impressive quality. The AOL ads that flooded the screens in the back of taxis since 2010 are not the only reason that the company has buzz; both she and Armstrong have been good at ignoring AOL’s falling stock price, which is down almost 38 percent this year, though ad sales were up 8 percent last quarter. AOL’s core business is still based on dial-up subscriptions, which are, clearly, completely doomed. In 2002, AOL had 35 million subscribers; today, it has about 3 million, and every year it loses about 30 percent of its base. Shockingly, a majority of those 3 million reportedly have cable or DSL and don’t realize that they don’t have to pay AOL for a subscription.....

The sale price, at $315 million, was highly speculative based on HuffPo’s current numbers. Huffington’s main business partner, Ken Lerer—the former AOL communication director, in fact, though he was pushed out during the Time Warner merger—made, reportedly, between $40 million and $60 million. According to a source, after the checks were written with AOL, he pulled his CEO, CFO, and most of the Huffington Post management team to his ventures, leaving AOL with Huffington, on her own. She did not put money into the website at the outset, and reportedly made $18 million.....

Eventually, about 30 of AOL’s content sections, like Politics Daily and Slashfood, were “integrated” into the Huffington Post, rebranded as HuffPo Politics or HuffPo Food. Employees began saying that there was no merger after all—they just put the two companies together and shut one down, and the net effect was that the company only got larger by about 20 percent.....

The future of AOL, though, is unclear: Though Armstrong maintains Patch will be successful (“It’s a risk worth taking”), it’s currently losing about $140 million a year, and there are weekly stories in the business press about AOL breaking up the company."


http://nymag.com/news/media/arianna-huffington-2011-11/

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 11:18:19 in reply to Comment 71528

Patch is an interesting creature. Can't say I'm a big fan.

What will be interesting is what's left in the wake of Patch?

Does it build a culture of local independent journalism with the former Patch editor as a major node in that network?

That's what I'm watching for in this story.

Thanks for your insightful posts. I miss Indymedia Hamilton. While I was an army guy back in those days and completely disagreed with most of the content, I did admire the hard work of the site and the insightful information it provided.

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By nobody cares (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2011 at 15:46:17

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 19, 2011 at 16:36:44 in reply to Comment 71450

this is your conclusion due to the demise of a poorly run online media source?? We've got our troubles, sure, but keep your head up. It ain't that bad.

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By nobody cares (anonymous) | Posted November 21, 2011 at 02:36:32 in reply to Comment 71452

My conclusion because it works in larger centres. It is basically the same, all the sites use the same model. It works in the larger cities but crashed here. What other conclusion can one come to?

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 22, 2011 at 19:33:04 in reply to Comment 71471

perhaps they should have thought about potential differences in a smaller market - they never advertised, didn't aggressively pursue stories, expected enough content to be dropped on their lap...were too much like the Spec but not good enough to draw their readers and not as good as RTH to draw it's readers. smaller city could mean a slight shift in the business model. I wouldn't just blame Hamilton and say there's no hope because someones' business idea failed. businesses fail in every city, every day.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 19, 2011 at 16:41:43

Given some of my own experiences attempting to organize a broader alternative media source here, dating back to Indymedia Hamilton, I'm left a little wary of the "franchise" model. There's a lot to be said for these networks, OpenFile, the Media Coop etc, but I see the success of Raise the Hammer as evidence that people here would prefer something that's locally focused first and nationally connected second.

Despite the failure of Openfile, the independent media situation in this town is still better than it has been in decades. No one site has come to the forefront yet and challenged the Spec or CH, but as voices in the crowd multiply, they're getting increasingly dim.

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By Not Boxing (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2011 at 17:39:10 in reply to Comment 71454

Indeed. The franchised nature of OF grated a bit, I think. (The same doesn't hold for the CBC, but that brand has some potent mythology going for it -- if their experiment disappoints, it will be on its own terms.) Social media has been a great lubricant but on the whole, I wish that there was more proactive work being done and less reactive work. The Spec still wields outsized influence when you think of how its coverage is repeated prismatically through resource-deprived outlets like CHML, CHCH, the blogosphere and so on. Then again, I think that most Hamiltonians are reasonably happy with the media status quo; if they want anything, it's not clear that it's more local news so much as more local information.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted November 21, 2011 at 14:37:43

I think a lack of advertising helped to kill OpenFile. I knew it was around and liked what I read but nothing was in my face to remind me to go visit during those crucial start-up months. Checking RTH is a habit for me now, OF never became pert of my net routine because I simply forgot it was there.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted November 23, 2011 at 21:10:06 in reply to Comment 71486

OF never became part of my net routine because I simply forgot it was there.

Ditto.

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By kendall (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2011 at 01:07:48

I fired off a condolence letter to OpenFile Chief Executive Officer Wilf Dinnick as follows, "I have to admit I am one of many who really didn’t know of your existence until it was too late. I’m not totally shocked that none of the traditional media gave your service any recognition, considering how scared of online news services they are. They may childishly discredit blogs and such as sights run by unprofessional and their content as unreliable. This in fact isn’t true, yours and many others offer another side of the truth that is missing from the mainstream sources. I hope your staff regroup and reconsider and give Hamilton another shot in the future." He replied quickly "We beat ourselves up, trying to save Hamilton. We think, of all cities, this should be working. Every other city is growing so fast. I also agree with your take on blogs, etc. However, I have to admit, if I was editing the Spec, at first blush, I would likely dismiss OpenFile. Too bad, too. We really are growing so fast and perhaps, when we come back, we will have more of a national brand that will help us next time around. We do plan to return but likely not for at least the next 6 months. When we do come back, I truly hope you will help make OpenFile the success it do deserves in that community." You shouldn't beat yourself up over the truth.

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