Local news is now in a transitional phase: economic forces have squeezed the revenues and resources of local news publishers, and democratic forces have increased the opportunities for other news sources to emerge. This transitional phase is heaped in fragmentation, and the fragmented nature of local news coverage has caused a problem for news readers who aren’t able to find the coverage of their community that they desire.
The decline of local news coverage is not only due to closures of local news organisations, operators that do remain have less resources available and face an uncertain future.
Local news consumers can take some comfort from the fact that in recent years we have seen the emergence of various budding publishers, each producing their own news content. Amongst these are so called citizen journalists who have embraced the freedom of the internet to publish news about their local community, helping to fill the vacuum that has been created by the declining output of news from established news organisations.
All journalists now have the power and the resources to compete with established media owners by publishing their own work to the web. These ‘citizen journalists’ are becoming increasingly important to the supply of local news, yet with a vast array of unfamiliar news websites we still have no convenient means of accessing their work.
Here at Bundle, we build on the value that local news producers create by providing better discovery, and better consumption, to news readers. Our mobile app is the interface for this consumption, at the core of which is a ‘Nearby’ news feed. We prefer to describe Bundle as a service rather than an app: behind the app is a complex combination of man and machine, that involves aggregating the supply of local news articles from an increasingly diverse range of sources. It is this combination that makes local news available to news readers in a personalised manner.
Rather than disrupt the existing distribution mechanisms of local news (print and web), Bundle promises to revitalise local news through the interface and intelligence of a mobile app.
No industry has seen more disruption by the distribution mechanisms of the internet than the music industry. The latest example being Tidal, Jay Z’s new music streaming platform. Tidal intends to place musicians in control of distributing their work, away from the clutches of record labels, and rival existing music streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora. Many artists have voiced their support for the service that Tidal provides due to the business model offering a fairer share of the profits compared to services like Spotify. Tidal’s business model is based on connecting the music producer directly with the listener, removing any requirements for the traditional ‘middleman’. Simon Owens claims that this represents the next stage in what’s been called the “great unbundling” - a term usually used to describe trends in the cable and newspaper industry where subscribers “cut the cord” and move onto more niche platforms that fulfil their needs, such as services like Spotify and Netflix. But even with these platforms, a middleman still exists, even if it’s a more efficient middleman.
Despite it being abundantly clear that local news is in need of a better connection between the news producer and news consumer, a platform has never emerged. We believe Bundle’s technology - sophisticated news aggregation and slick mobile app - is ready to facilitate this connection between producer and consumer, and to organise the fragmented nature of local news publishing that exists today.
At the heart of our solution is a location-driven news feed, this advancement positions Bundle to enable more efficient relationships between local news producers, local news readers and local advertisers; a business model which can revitalise local news for all concerned.