By Melanie Turner, Sacramento Business Journal, Dec 14, 2008
An online effort at citizen journalism aims to inspire Sacramento-area residents to contribute local stories and help a startup compete for advertising dollars with traditional media outlets.
Sacramento Press (SacramentoPress.com) is in beta form, and will debut new features — including helping contributing writers preview how stories will appear on the site — at the end of the first quarter, editor-in-chief Geoff Samek said. Stories are submitted remotely by anyone who feels inspired to write — for free.
Ben Ilfeld and Samek, both 27, founded Sacramento Press.
And two software developers, Joel Rosenberg and Joseph Krause, created an application that serves as the backbone of the Web site.
The software allows writers to “tag” content with keywords so stories are sorted by the tag. Readers click on the tag to follow all stories on a particular topic.
“We’re asking the whole community to write about what’s new and what’s important in their lives,” Samek said.
The company is marketing the Web site in downtown and midtown, riding bicycles towing a Sacramento Press billboard and placing cardboard laptop computer replicas on park benches and in cafes.
The site has attracted 68 writers.
“Our newsroom is everywhere in Sacramento,” marketing director Nicholas Walsh said.
Almost anything submitted is published. Sacramento Press completes some basic editing and is holding a few journalism workshops at its office at 431 I St.
But the company wants to build a reputation on being open and transparent.
“We’re putting it out there in a more raw form,” said managing editor David Watts Barton, who left The Sacramento Bee in September 2007 after 23 years.
Sacramento Press has six full-time employees and part-timer Barton.
Company executives expect to start generating advertising revenue this week. They anticipate monthly revenue of $60,000 within eight months, with a long-term goal of $2.4 million in annual revenue.
Ilfeld and Samek financed the startup. They would not disclose the investment, but said it’s enough to keep the operation running for a year.