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Video: Ben Tribbett, aka “Not Larry Sabato,” Announces Local Newspaper Project Using “Totally Different Model”; Hopes to Launch “In the Next Month Or So”

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Last night on Facebook, Ben Tribbett – aka, “Not Larry Sabato” – made a “big announcement.” Check out the video, below. In short, what Tribbett is proposing is as follows:

  • “I have been working on a project of late to try to bring a better local news source to Northern Virginia…better serve the community with information on what’s going on at the state and local level.”
  • “The model of the news of the future is going to be a little bit retro…both an online model that includes texting and other new features but also an older model that includes a print edition.”
  • “What the game plan is as of right now is we are going to be launching a monthly newspaper that’s going to be serving parts of Northern Virginia and hopefully quickly expanding to be even greater than that. This monthly paper is going to be delivered via mail, so people will get it in their mailbox that are in the selected areas.”
  • “Basically what my vision for this is to have a place where people can really get more local and state information, because i think that as we saw in the pandemic people were really looking for places to connect with their community. And in our area, at least here in Northern Virginia, you know the Washington Post is an incredible resource…but it’s a daily newspaper…so there’s not a lot of analysis…and there’s not a lot of detailed local coverage of what’s really happening….What we’re trying to do with our new project is really be in a way complementary to that, where these are going to be longer form pieces that really go into detail on issues that give people the the full background versus the day-to-day news.”
  • We’re gonna be hopefully launching in the next month or so…It’s gonna be a community driven effort…It’s going to use a totally different model…Some of the local information has really turned into a cheerleading section for local officials, I don’t think they’re interested in actual journalism of what’s going on; I think that the interest is in getting people to access journalism, people to return their calls, to be able to just create some basic content and sell some advertising. And that’s not what this new entity is going to be. We’re going to be about really pushing interesting issues.”

So what do you think? Can a journalism model like this work? I’m very interested to find out, particularly given the context, which has been the rapid erosion and even decimation of local news outlets over the past decade or so, and the failure to find a local journalism business model that is actually sustainable. Can this be it? As someone who strongly believes that “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” and also that democracy depends upon an informed electorate, I sure hope it does!