Caffeine Flavored Future for Hyperlocal Journalism
Is it really a media company or is it the Czech version of Starbucks? Either way, Nase Adresa (Our Address) is trying to turn the tables in journalism. Started last year, the hyperlocal newsoutlet now has four local newspapers (all working from company owned cafes) and a centrally based Futuroom. Fourty more will be opened this year and before the end of 2011 Nase Adresa is supposed to have 89 newscafes, covering all of the Czech Republic.
The business model is far from traditional. PPF Media, the owner company, says it gets 60% of its profit from advertisement and subscriptions to the weekly print editions. But the interesting part comes from the rest: 8% from online-activities, 18% from selling coffee and cakes in the cafes and 14% from the exploitation of the futuroom, which is designed as a state-of-the-art training and consulting centre.
As far as journalism is concerned, the editor-in-chief stresses the need for credibility. “That’s why we would never publish any user generated content without having been checked by our staff. Credibility is one of the most important pillars of this concept”, Roman Gallo says. Some of the other pillars: hire young new journalists and train them for at least 4 months before putting them on the job, be as open and interactive as possible, don’t hesitate to perform activities that are not 100% journalistic (for example: a journalist can work asn event organiser, if that would ultimately help outlets and the business).
Nase Adresa has about five professional journalists in every café, and momentarily is hiring like crazy – against all trends. By the end of next year it is supposed to have more than 400 hyperlocal journalists. The monthly costs in human resources are about 8000 dollar per café, plus about half of that for the staff that’s needed to run the bar. Gallo expects to reach break-even by the summer of 2012. Already now an average cafe has a turnover of about $8000 every month, according to Gallo.
Although its strategy is web first and Nase Adresa is active in mobile as well, the print editions are key in this model. A paper can be bought for two quarters, which is relatively cheap compared to the other Czech newspapers. For that price a reader will get 32 tabloid pages, of which maximally 30% will consist of ads. In reality, Gallo is happy (“and profitable”) with two pages of ads in every single issue.
Gallo is convinced that his ambitions will work out fine in the Czech Republic. 89 cafés, 150 weekly newspapers and more than 1000 different websites will do the job at the end of next year. He doesn’t do any predictions about the viability of the concept in other countries though. Businesswise and culturewise things might be totally different. But still, the concept is inspiring and with a few alterations, this might become part of any of the hyperlocal projects we are so fond of these days.
But before copying the concept, it might be worthwhile to wait for Gallo’s next experience: he is planning to serve canned beer in the upcoming new cafes. “Which is a risk, because we don’t want to have our cafe filled with drunk visitors at 7 in the morning.”
Not to mention the drunk reporters.