Ex-Chicago Trib Staffers to Provide Chicago Content for NY Times

Local news blogs may have trouble making their economics work. But what if their content can be picked up and paid for by major media outlets? That’s the model behind the Chicago News Cooperative (CNC), a new organization of former Chicago Tribune staffers.

The CNC, which has received start-up funding by The MacArthur Foundation, is developing a destination site named “Chicago Scoop” for early 2010. But in the meantime, it has made a deal to syndicate its content to The New York Times’ new Chicago-zoned edition.

It seems like a win-win all around. The Times gets two pages of professional quality, CNC-branded local content twice a week. It also provides the basis for a Chicago edition, which follows other local NYT editions in San Francisco. The CNC reporters, for their part, have a major outlet, which is likely to supplement a partnership that it has formed with WTTW-TV, Chicago’s public TV station. It also has the possibility of teaming with many other localized national services that have set up in Chicago (i.e., The Huffington Post and ESPN Local).

The model is a slightly different one from others. The U.S. Local News Network, for instance — the new name for The San Diego News Network — partners with local media companies, such as cable companies and broadcast outlets. It provides a quid pro quo of its content for promotion of its destination site. Outside.in, meanwhile, partners with blogs and gives them helpful geotargeting tools in return for displaying their content.

USC Annenberg’s Geneva Overholser, a featured speaker at BIA/Kelsey’s Interactive Local Media conference in December, says that “the future is going to be marked by these kinds of network opportunities. I’m delighted to see the legacy media folks trying to do news in different ways.”

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