Imagine a community of 80,000 people living in a diverse residential area of young families, empty nesters and seniors, with good housing stock, lots of local businesses, but no newspaper. There could be opportunities in all those eyeballs, according to Mike Fourcher and Patrick Boylan, and they are out to capitalize on some of them.
Inspired by the Baristanet and MyBallard.com, Fourcher and Boylan have been planning Center Square Ledger, a hyperlocal online news site for the Chicago communities of North Center, Lincoln Square and Ravenswood Manor since October. It will officially launch on Monday, Jan. 18th. If you are taking the Brown Line on Monday, between the Francisco and Addison stops, you are likely to see some of the 10,000 fliers advertising the new site.
Stories will be uploaded on a daily basis like they are on ChicagoTalks.org. Fourcher said they will focus on businesses, restaurant reviews, events, school news and other neighborhood happenings. With Gordon Tech and Lane Tech in their target area, they have the opportunity to do some hyperlocal sports news. The site is optimized for cellphones and smartphone browsers.
Center Square Ledger aims to be a for-profit community news site for the three communities, which have about 80,000 residents according to Fourcher. Initially, there will be no paid staff. Fourcher, who was an early contributor to Chicagoist.com as well as one of the organizers of the Chicago Future of Media Conference last June, and Boylan, who is a stringer for ChicagoNow, where he blogs about hockey and the Wolves, will write and report for the site. They will be looking for other contributors, but won’t have a budget to pay freelancers at first. Volunteers can contact Patrick to get involved.
The content will be edited by Fourcher and Boylan, but contributors will be able to submit stories to the site. There is a flickr.com stream set up to share and showcase photos from the three neighborhoods. Fourcher says CSL will cover local businesses as well as civic and political organizations. They’ve met with the Chamber of Commerce from each community, and Boylan has met with several Local School Councils (LSCs). The communities are in the 40th (Ald. Patrick O’Connor) and 47th Wards (Ald. Gene Schulter), and Fourcher said they will be meeting with Ald. Schulter soon.
In the interest of transparency, please note that Barbara Iverson and Mike Fourcher worked with Scott Smith to organize the Chicago Media Future Conference.