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What Yellowbook is doing now that no one uses Yellowbook

Posted November 28th, 2012 in Journalism and tagged , , , , , , , , by davecopeland

Email forwarded to me because I teach journalism classes. Emphasis is mine:

My name is XXXXXX, I am a longtime journalist and I am currently working on the launch of eight hyper-local magazines in the Boston area. I wanted to write and tell you about the new initiative and let you know about some opportunities I might have for some of your journalism students.

My new title is publications manager for hibu, which is owned by Yellowbook. I’ll be the editor at a dozen or so monthly, hyper-local magazines which will be distributed in the mail throughout eastern Massachusetts. Yellowbook is hiring people with some serious journalism pedigree to oversee the entire operation and are hiring journalists, such as myself, to write, manage and edit the content. The magazines, although free in the mail, aren’t mailers per se. Thankfully, Yellowbook has made it clear that they want great content and there is even room for enterprise reporting, issue stories and the like. Since the deadlines are a month prior to printing, however, the content can’t really be time sensitive, unless done far in advance.

Anyway, I am looking for people who might be interested in writing content. Unfortunately, since this is a startup, I don’t have any funds at the moment to pay freelancers, but I thought you might have a few students who might be interested in getting some clips in a glossy magazine and a good reference from me. In your neck of the woods, I have magazines launching this spring in Hanover, Pembroke, Norwood and Canton. We’ll also be launching magazines in Natick, Salem, Beverly, Marlborough and Acton if you have students from those areas who might be interested in writing.

The hyper-local nature of the magazines means that most content – features, profiles, local issue stories, human interest stories, event previews, etc. — needs to be tied directly to the community, although I’d happily take general stories that would be relevant to all communities. I would love the opportunity to meet with you and discuss this new initiative in person if you are inclined. I’m in the process of coming up with story ideas and I’d happily hear any pitches you or students might have.

Thanks…Hope to speak with you soon.

“Hyperlocal” is quickly becoming synonymous with “hyper cheap.” Someday people may try that old-fashioned business model where you pay great people – students or otherwise – fair wages in return for great content. I get several emails like this every month from people looking to build their next big media business on the backs of what amounts to slave labor. If the student-run newspaper I advise can find a way to pay editors and writers, then so should Yellowbook.

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