The Real Paul Jones

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The Rise of Carrboro, the Fall of San Francisco

A beautiful spring day and the opening of the Carrboro Farmers’ Market coincides with the initial publication of the Carrboro Citizen. The Citizen is in boxes around the town and in the front of Weaver Street. As I sat at the Weave with my coffee reading the Citizen, several folks stopped and asked where to get a copy. The excitement of having a locally owned small town paper that is put out by people who know and love the town was and is palpable. (also on their website if you are paper adverse or far from the Paris of the Piedmont).

Out on the Left Coast’s other Bohemia, Tim O’Reilly reports on the desperate straits that the San Francisco Chronicle flounders in. That leads to a spirited and informative discussion and…

Dave Winer has a solution or better a set of solutions which he calls his “message of hope” consisting of two points (which he explains in more detail

  1. “journalism should become a required course, one or two semesters for every graduate”
  2. “embrace the best bloggers.”

Summary: Read Carrboro Citizen, O’Reilly and Winer.


  1. No coincidence about the first issue/ first market/ first day of spring.
    Thanks for pointing out the Winer piece:

    Left him this comment:

    While we’re seeing a whole new approach to print–one that uses the Web to drive the print product, the innovations that will make it work are not going to spring from inside institutions with all the deft of a supertanker. Instead, my guess is that a new type of newspaper/web model will come from/be inspired by a rebirth of small community weeklies.
    The truth is, it’s not impossible or expensive to start a small newspaper and Web operation.
    At the paper we just launched in Carrboro, we started off with the idea of making it sustainable. To us, that means supporting our staff body and soul; keeping it locally focused, full of community voices and a good read. The business model is a low-profit margin, a manageable page count and not trying to over expand and swallow up more territory. We just want to do what we do well.

    One thing we’re trying is free in-town home delivery. We’re fortunate because Carrboro is pretty compact. We feel as a community paper we have to have it for people who can’t–for one reason or another–get out to pick one up. We also felt we couldn’t be sustainable if we just throw one in everyone’s driveway like a lot of small papers and shoppers do. I think a small, hyper-local urban paper could do well using this model.

    Happy to talk with anyone about what we’ve learned,

    Kirk Ross
    Editor, The Carrboro Citizen

  2. One comment from the ConvergeSouth keeps haunting me: “newspapers don’t invest in R&D”. Well, there’s lots of R&D going on in the blog-o-sphere that could be re-used to drive news operations. In this case, the modest investment needed is an open-mind and time to follow ‘net trends. Better than paying someone like me to retool your operation (though I’m always happy to help at a reduced rate of $100/hr. 😉 ).

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