Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

A Patch of Its Own: Yahoo Builds a San Francisco Newspaper

Patch, AOL’s network of Web-only local newspapers, is open in 100 towns. And AOL (AOL) says it will have 500 by the end of the year. Now it looks like Yahoo is planning its own local Webpaper venture, in San Francisco.

Yahoo will use its Associated Content content farm/factory/mill (pick your favorite phrase!), acquired earlier this year for $90 million, to build out the site. Alan Mutter, the plugged-in newspaper blogger, has the details:

In a breathless email blast to registered contributors at Associated Content, Yahoo said it is “looking for writers living in or near the San Francisco area (like you!) to write compelling, local content–ranging from highlights of your favorite neighborhood destinations to metro-wide, first-person reporting assignments covering the stories and topics not typically found in mainstream news media.”

A questionnaire soliciting personal interests and writing samples from potential contributors indicates that the site will cover crime, local news, politics, weather, traffic, transit, sports, business, local celebrities, personal-interest stories, events and things to do, nightlife, restaurants, social calendar, real estate and development, education.

Those responding to the questionnaire were promised “a $10 assignment to write on any topic about San Francisco!” In the future, Yahoo said “select contributors” will receive “weekly, paid assignments to write articles on SF and their own neighborhoods.”

I’ve asked Yahoo (YHOO) for comment on the venture, but I’ve heard nothing but chirping crickets in response. (UPDATE: See new Yahoo comment below.) Which is too bad, because I had some questions for Carol Bartz and company. For instance:

  • Is this a one-off, or should we expect to see more AC-powered local sites?
  • If we’re going to see more of these, what should the local newspapers that Yahoo does business with think?
  • Or are we looking at this the wrong way? For instance, maybe this really isn’t a foray into local news, but a high-profile demonstration project for Associated Content? Is that plausible?
  • Well, how did I get here?

Okay, okay. I know the answer to that last one. If I hear back from the Yahoos, I’ll update. Until, then, enjoy:

UPDATE: Just after I hit “publish,” this statement from Yahoo popped up in my in-box:

Associated Content is an important platform for generating content across Yahoo!’s content verticals, and local is one of many areas on Yahoo! that will benefit from our ability to generate high quality content on specific topics. We are moving quickly to integrate Associated Content into Yahoo!’s media properties and explore new ways to leverage the contributor community, including local.

Meanwhile, PaidContent’s Joe Tartakoff puts Yahoo’s Bay Area efforts in the context of its larger local ambitions. A good read.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik