"Operation Local News" Moves Forward
CONTINUING TO MARCH
Former Daily Pilot publisher, Tom Johnson and former Daily Pilot editor, Bill Lobdell are continuing to kick the can down the street in their pursuit of launching a new source for local news here in the land of Newport-Mesa.
ADVISORY BOARD MEETS
Last night they held a meeting of members of their Advisory Board - a group of 30 business and community leaders and others - to bring them up to speed on their plans and to solicit input as they attempt to put this new venture together.
SOME FORMER "PILOTEERS"
Although not all of the members of the Advisory Board were in attendance last night, as I looked around the room at those who did show up I was impressed. In addition to Johnson and Lobdell, there were a few other former Daily Pilot staffers - Tony Dodero, who recently departed after a long and illustrious career; Lana Johnson, who has joined Lobdell and Tom Johnson in their endeavor, and former (twice) Daily Pilot columnist and public relations consultant Byron de Arakal.
OTHER HEAVY HITTERS... AND ME
Among the others in attendance were Realtor and Newport Mesa Unified School Board President Dana Black and Newport Beach City Manager Homer Bludau were in the group, as was former California Secretary of Education Marian Bergeson. Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Richard Luehrs, business leaders Brent Hemphill, Paula Wilhelm and Kirk McIntosh - who heads up the Daily Pilot Cup youth soccer tournament - were also there to provide comments and guidance. As you can see, there were many "heavy hitters" in the group. And then there was me...
TRYING TO FILL A VOID
It was clear from the presentation made by Johnson and Lobdell that they are eager to fill the void they see being created by the decline of local news outlets - specifically the Daily Pilot and the Orange County Register. I share their concern and feel our community needs and deserves a credible local news source.
ONLINE ALL THE TIME - IN PRINT ONCE A WEEK
Although they are still tinkering with their business model, it looks like they are aiming at a 24/7/365 online presence with, perhaps, a one-day-a-week print edition. As I mentioned in an earlier posts, HERE and HERE, there are examples of this kind of a business model almost within arm's reach - San Diego and in South Orange County.
LOOKING FOR MONEY
The big push now is for MONEY. Johnson and Lobdell are actively seeking investors to fund their plan. They've run the numbers and have a very good idea of just what it's going to cost to launch and grow a new publication using contemporary technology combined with proven journalistic practices. Their best guess is that it's going to take a million bucks to begin this new venture. Yikes! Still, having seen their projections, that number seems realistic.
TOUGH TIME, BUT A GOOD IDEA
Now, I certainly realize this is a tough time to be launching any kind of a business. However, with the decline and possible demise of print journalism throughout our country, the plan Johnson and Lobdell are proposing seems like a good way to perpetuate the availability of accurate and timely information in our communities. I hope they are successful.
MY PREFERENCE - BUY THE DAILY PILOT
My personal preference - as I've told Johnson and Lobdell - would be for them to purchase the Daily Pilot and morph it into whatever business model seems right. I would hate to lose the Pilot and it's century of archival and cultural significance in our community. I know Johnson has been attempting to acquire the Daily Pilot from the bankrupt Tribune Company and will continue to do so.
FOLLOW THEIR PROGRESS AND SEND THEM MONEY
You can follow their progress on their blog, Operation Local News, and can help them kick off this very impressive plan by aiming all your wealthy friends to them. Johnson and Lobdell hope to have their plan finalized and funding available by March 1st. If that happens they will begin publishing in May.