About PA Post

Crucial Differences | Platforms | Results | Community Differences | Business Model | Next Steps

 

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Is there anyone who claims to hail from Pennsylvania? That's just not how residents of the Commonwealth think. If you're live in Pennsylvania, you think of yourself as from Philadelphia, or Bellefonte, or even from a neighborhood, like Shadyside in Pittsburgh. It's hard to get Pennsylvania citizens to care about something that happens in another township, city, county or region. That's why media organizations find it difficult to connect Pennsylvanians to their state.

And consider this: the least well reported institution in American public life is also the institution with the most significant impact on citizens' lives:  their state government. That's because state governments are the primary guarantors of everything from public and higher education to infrastructure to the safety of our food, air and water.

Pennsylvania, the nation's 6th most populous state, has an under-covered state government and legislature, and lacks the "connective tissue" of a quality statewide news organization to bring important issues to the attention--and engagement--of all its citizens.  

Philosophically, PA Post is an effort to connect Pennsylvanians to their state, and to each other--to knit us together with trusted information and conversation that will establish more shared ownership of both our problems and our solutions.

Journalistically, PA Post's digital-first news means fact-based and contextual journalism produced for delivery first on the digital devices that users increasingly prefer: smartphones, tablets and computers, and using all of digital media's formats: audio, text, video, maps, animation and interactives.  

 

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Crucial Differences | Platforms | Results | Community Differences | Business Model | Next Steps

 

But there are at least 3 crucial differences in our approach in PA Post.

  1. First, PA Post will present stories through other news organizations as well, as both distributors of, and contributors to, PA Post.
  2. Secondly, we will connect with citizens in person as well as on-line. We plan community and panel discussions at partner locations and colleges around the state, as part of our effort to rebuild trust in news and in citizens' ability to affect their own government's policies.
  3. Thirdly, we will build both media literacy and civic education seamlessly into our work.  It's not the fault of Pennsylvanians that they don't know how their state government works.  That kind of civic education hasn't been a priority for years.  We will be a news organization that engages citizens on how our reporting is done, and by what standards.

WITF Public Media will build its digital-first news efforts on the foundation of its robust radio, television, print and event platforms--platforms that have been bringing Pennsylvania issues to Pennsylvanians for more than half a century.

PA Post will be a willing collaborator with other media organizations and agnostic about their for-profit, non-profit, print, broadcast or digital status. PA Post will distribute its content to its partners, and will amplify the distribution of quality content produced by others.

PA Post will contribute and distribute quality journalism into an interconnected news ecosystem.

 

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Crucial Differences | Platforms | Results | Community Differences | Business Model | Next Steps

 

PA Post's Platforms

I. Digital-first News

Delivered to mobile and computers via email newsletters, social media channels and web.

II. Broadcast

Features, two-ways and interviews on WITF's existing commercial and public radio networks, and on public and commercial television.

III. Feedback

Using apps, surveys and focus groups, we will involve PA Post users before the stories, during the reporting and after the posts.

IV. Events

In Harrisburg and hosted around the state on campuses and at public media stations, panel discussions and town meetings to involve and engage communities in region-specific topics.

V. Podcasts

Audio stories and compilations with a "voice" and tone to take advantage of this new form for delivery of content and analysis.

VI. Print and Print Partner websites

Stories, animations and maps, infographics and more on Pennsylvania's pressing issues.

 

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Crucial Differences | Platforms | Results | Community Differences | Business Model | Next Steps

 

Initial Results: Registered PA Voters' views on Pennsylvania state news

The survey of registered voters conducted by Franklin & Marshall College's Center for Opinion Research in May 2017 revealed some interesting results about citizens' consumption of, and trust in, news about Pennsylvania policy, politics and issues.  According to researcher Berwood Yost, "More than half (58%) of the state's registered voters believe state government plays a very important role in their lives, but only one in six (17%) very closely follows news about the state.  The proportion of respondents very closely following news about the state is smaller than the one in four (26%) who say they have a great deal of interest in news about PA government, policy and politics."

This gap may be a result of not knowing where to find state news, or not being satisfied with the quality of what news is available; few (14%) people, for example, think local news media do a good job of keeping them informed about state news.

This suggests at least two opportunities for PA Post: (1) to deliver a higher level of quality and relevance to those citizens who think state government plays an important role in their lives and (2) to find ways to communicate the availability of PA Post content to those citizens.

The survey also confirmed that citizens are using a wide variety of sources (cable TV, broadcast TV, internet and print); this may also confirm the assumption that their current sources of state government information aren't satisfactory to them.

Additional research will explore how the sense of place (location) shapes perceptions of politics in Pennsylvania; the goal is to measure how place-based people's political attitudes are.

 

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Crucial Differences | Platforms | Results | Community Differences | Business Model | Next Steps

 

What Community Leaders and Media Colleagues Had to Say

A 2-day conference at WITF in late June included exploratory sessions with community leaders (from United Way, business sector and education) and with media colleagues (newspapers and public media).  The community leaders identified a fear: "that deals are being made to the detriment of PA citizens. Lobbyists and unions are better funded and louder than journalism in this state."  The media colleagues expressed dissatisfaction with both the content of statehouse reporting ("process stories don't resonate; pocketbook stories do") and with an apparent lack of demand ("if use of our statehouse stories were the only measure, I would shift 1 reporter to breaking news, but we view this coverage as a civic responsibility.")

We posited a value proposition that "solves the deficit in relevant information about Pennsylvania state government and enables a sense of empowerment for PA citizens. If successful, we will have addressed a service gap for PA journalism and built a sustainable organization that hears and amplifies the voices and identity of Pennsylvanians."

Crucial Differences | Platforms | Results | Community Differences | Business Model | Next Steps

 

What's the business model?

We don't pretend to have solved the business model challenge that's bedeviled journalism for the past 2 decades. But we are learning from others' experiments, and our initial list of revenue sources includes B2C options (subscriptions, membership, events), B2B options (syndication, pay per use, revenue share) and indirect options (sponsorship, advertising, philanthropy.)

 

Crucial Differences | Platforms | Results | Community Differences | Business Model | Next Steps

 

Next Steps

In mid-July, we fielded a survey of executives and news directors at Pennsylvania news organizations. 

You can take the survey here

Results will be posted here this fall.


The Discovery Phase of PA Post is made possible by a generous grant from the Wyncote Foundation.