If you look in the right-hand column of our home page this morning, you’re going to see an icon much like the one to your left. It reiterates something about our site that we’ve told you from the very beginning: We’re local, authentically local. The people behind MyVeronaNj.com live on the same streets you do, we cheer our kids on at the same school events. And when you support us as an advertiser or subscriber, the profits aren’t shipped off to a headquarters across the country. They stay here in Verona.
There are a lot of independently owned local news sites like us across the United States and now, MyVeronaNJ.com has joined forces with them–50 and counting–in a branding campaign called Authentically Local. Some are in New Jersey, like Baristanet, redbankgreen and Hoboken411. But there’s also The Batavian from upstate New York, Chattarati from Chattanooga, Tenn. and Noozhawk in Santa Barbara, Calif., which published a story on a local resident getting a heart transplant on the same day we did.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the essence of an authentically local news site: We write about stories in our communities that matter to our communities, not because some corporate bean counter has dictated that they will be good for traffic. Yes, at local news sites that aren’t really local–heck, let’s call them fauxcal–the writers are told to watch important search words in national or international news and write stories to fit. Alas, Justin Bieber doesn’t live here.
Lots of media businesses want to give the appearance of being local now; it’s where the money is. Recent studies value the local advertising market at $100 billion annually. But you can’t smack a town name onto a corporate Web site template and call it local any more than you can put a red-and-white checkerboard on factory cookies and call them home made. That hasn’t, however, stopped several of the fauxcals from sending us e-mails asking to join Authentically Local.
Here’s how Debbie Galant of Baristanet described “local” on Authentically Local‘s Web site:
“…Local is something that’s part of what makes where you are unique. As unique and flawed and loveable as your own kids. Something is authentically local if it’s the first thing you’d want an old friend, visiting from the other side of the world, to see. It’s authentically local if its disappearance could potentially break your heart.
We’re not going anywhere, with the possible exception of a conference with other members of Authentically Local in Chicago later this year. We’re going to be at the Verona Town Council and Verona Board of Education meetings, the concerts at Verona High School and the sports events at the Verona Community Center. We’re going to support you by bringing you news about Verona, reported by the folks who know it best. Folks as authentically local as you.