Cory Bergman of MSNBC; Jim Pastor of ESPN Local and Kinsey Wilson of NPR Digital Media tackled issues related to how local “local” must be and what’s the best mix of national brands and platforms with local news and info.
As Kinsey said, it’s making sense for the national brands to lead with identity and offer thought leadership, infrastructure, platforms and tools for the sake of efficiency and consistency but let local information drive incremental value.
Pastor said that while the ESPN Local brand carries weight, its 50 owned radio stations and 375 affiliates contribute a lot of local content value. Bergman saw a key growth opportunity for local media to play a role in discovery and search where they’ve largely been underperforming.
Kinsey said NPR saw more immediate opportunities in the larger markets because that’s where newspapers are failing fastest and that’s where the greater number of start-ups that are potential partners.
The panelists considered the question of local information in terms of the balance between scalable, database driven-information from public sources (e.g., police reports, inspection reports) versus news and editorial from professional and citizen journalists. It seems this is a problem in motion and the right balance may vary market by market and in any case will definitely change over time as business models and economics evolve.