A Q&A with LION member Joshua Long, publisher of Xenia's Word on the Street in Ohio.
1. When did your site launch, what geography does it cover and why was it founded?
Xenia’s Word was launched in 2010. We cover Xenia, Ohio, which includes the City of Xenia, Xenia Township and the community of Wilberforce. As a local volunteer, I was pretty active in the community, and like many people in our community, I realized that there had become a gap that our local print media was struggling with. As the local print media were taking a more regional approach to their coverage, local coverage of our City was becoming less a focus. We launched to bring more local coverage, from the words and eyes of our citizen journalists.
2. What was your background before becoming an independent local news publisher?
I was not a professional in local news. In fact, still today I am a professional in manufacturing. However, I am very involved in our community, and have served in many volunteer roles, and even an elected role in our city government.
3. How would you describe your operation and business model?
We are a small town citizen journalism-focused operation. We focus on content first, and let advertising and revenue flow. We invite people to create content for us, who share a passion and focus on our community, before any advertising or political agendas. We operate on advertising and donations, and do not charge our readers.
4. What do you consider your competition as a local news or information source?
Competition comes from our local print media paper. They have also ventured into online news content, but maintain a subscription-based model.
5. What makes your site unique?
We are the only source dedicated 100 percent to the City of Xenia. We say "dedicated to Xenia’s news, events and views." We are also the only 100 percent online news source in our area.
6. What is something you wish you had known when you were starting out or would do differently now that could perhaps serve as advice for others?
I would have spent more time and funds upfront on developing and owning my own sites. We used many OK, but free, web hosts, and it created limitations.
7. What about your operation is your biggest source of pride right now?
Our content creators. We do not pay for content. Our writers, photographers, share a source of pride in engaging our community. To get people willing to volunteer their time and share in your dream is amazing!
8. What do you struggle with the most?
Getting advertising. Since we have a community focus, we struggle with finding the time to get local advertisers. Although we have the hard stats from the website and social media, which shows a larger readership than print media, we struggle with getting in front of the people in the businesses who purchase advertising.
9. What are some of your future goals for the site?
We have ventured into podcasting, and want to use more conten, like audio and video to engage our readers.
10. Why are you a member of LION Publishers?
Networking and support! It’s not like I can go to a local coffee shop and meet other online publishers. Joining this group brings me into a close-knit group who share the same struggles, successes and pride in what we do. Being able to talk with, bounce ideas off, and in general share thoughts have brought me a lot of value.
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