AOL's Patch: Big Losses on Hyperlocal News (Bloomberg Businessweek)
In the fall of 2009, a group of journalists and publishers gathered in Manhattan to hear Jeff Jarvis, a Web evangelist and blogger, deliver a talk about the bright future of "hyperlocal" news. Jarvis told the assembled group that even as small and mid-sized papers were closing down, community journalism was being remade by thousands of independent, local bloggers, And these solo news artists appeared to be making good money: Bloggers working in communities with 50,000 individuals were pulling in $200,000 a year in advertising revenue, according to a study from the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, where Jarvis is a professor.
Two-and-a half years later, the notion of bloggers making six-figure incomes by chronicling town hall meetings, police blotter reports, and high school sports looks more like a fading dream than a bankable reality. Case in point: AOL. On May 25, a group of investors known as Starboard Value - which owns 5.3 percent of AOL is fighting for three seats on the board of directors - published a lengthy critique of the company's management. The sharpest words were reserved for AOL's continued, heavy investment in Patch, the company's network of 863 locally staffed community news sites, which AOL CEO Tim Armstrong founded and sold to AOL after joining the company. In 2011, according to Starboard's estimates, Patch lost $147 million while generating a mere $13 million in ad revenue, - roughly $15,000 per site. "We do not believe Patch is a viable business," the Starboard report said.
(The rest of this story can be found by clicking here.)
Marin Independent Journal Readers' Forum (Letter to the Editor)
SB 375 is a flawed law based on false theories on centering housing in density around transportation corridors. There is no scientific data to support this theory. Housing has a larger carbon footprint than autos and living near high-volume traffic is not healthy.
This law was sponsored by and is used by developers, builders and institutional investors looking to build high density affordable housing that is currently the only way to keep the building industry going after the housing bubble broke. The state housing quotas only make sense to the builders who benefit from state requirements.
Often, fortunately, affordable housing calculated on the state's flawed growth projections is not built. The elimination of redevelopment agencies also brings reality to these affordable housing quotas.
Well, buckle your seatbelt. The same triad of developers, builders and institutional investors have sponsored SB 1220. The same politicians who wrote SB 375 have submitted SB 1220. The legislation will add a $75 fee to the cost of filing real estate documents to build a $1 billion fund to help build affordable housing.
In reality, it is a massive subsidy for developers, builders and institutional investors to build affordable housing based on flawed SB 375 assumptions and unsupportable growth. Please contact your state legislator to oppose SB 1220. - Al Dugan, Novato
Shamus Roller at Housing California (e-mail to Eric Maundry)
Dear Eric: This afternoon the HOMeS Act (Senate Bill 1220), fell just two votes short of passage in the full Senate, with a final vote of 25-13. I am incredibly disappointed that this bill didn't pass, but the number of votes is indicative of the great work that was done by so many of your during this campaign. If we can get just two votes away in a year with an election and a massive budget deficit, I know that we can get a permanent source of funding for affordable homes very soon.
I know that many of you are as disappointed as I am about coming up short on this vote, but I invite you to take a moment to reflect on the great work you did, the lessons we learned, and the growing capacity of our broadened community to make a political impact. - Shamus Roller
Assembly candidates slug it out via mail (Pasadena Sun)
In the 41st Assembly District, the battle for the ballot box is being fought through the mailbox. The three Democrats in the five-way June 5 primary race and two independent political committees have spent more than $500,000 on political mailers in the past two months.
Democratic candidate Victoria Rusnak, who spent $320,000 on campaign literature, has been the target of at least four attack mailers from the Alliance for California's Tomorrow, a political committee funded by real estate, medical and insurance groups.
The group spent $82,000 slinging mud at Rusnak in May and $29,000 in support of Rusnak rival, Pasadena City Councilman Chris Holden, according to records filed with the California secretary of state.
Political committees cannot legally coordinate with the candidates they support, and Holden said he was in the dark about the groups' ads until they arrived in his mailbox.
(This article also contains speculation about the origin of the "four clowns" postcard opposing Measure A. Click here to link.)
Cows Crash Party, Drink Beer (Time Magazine)
These guys are party animals. In Boxford, Mass., a gang of five or six escaped local cows decided the best thing to do with their new-found freedom was to get drunk ASAP. The herd made their way to a local home, drove off the human residents - who were holding a backyard party - and made straight for the beer.
"They got up as the cows went toward the table," Lt. James Riter of the Boxford police said of the surprised party guests, according to NBC. "They stepped back and the cows took over the table, knocking over the beers with their noses, drinking the beer off the table. They went to the recycling bin to find any leftovers." Riter said the cows clearly relished the treat. "They enjoyed it. There's no doubt about it."
(Click here for the full Time Magazine report on renegade cows.)