case study EILEEN MULLAN
A Case of Publishing in Reverse
Company: T H E D A L L A S M O R N I N G N E W S
In 1885, when The Dallas Morning News first started covering the area in and around Dallas, it had a circulation of 5,000. Published
by A.H. Belo, a Texas-based publisher, The Dallas Morning News now covers 65 communities in the Dallas area and has a circulation
of more than half a million. Not to be left out of the internet loop, it created its web counterpart, www.dallasnews.com, which now
logs more than a million views a day, and neighborsgo.com, a social networking site that focuses on community-generated news.
Originally launched as a print product in April 2005 by The Dallas Morning News, neighborsgo received immense positive
feedback from news-savvy community members, and it quickly grew, publishing 16 print editions by 2006. Operating with an
email-only submission process, editors ran into information management problems as more and more people offered news
ideas. As the submissions poured in, inboxes began to fill to capacity, and editors struggled with crashing servers and bounced
emails. In 2007, neighborsgo decided to alleviate its email woes and take a more interactive approach to the submission
process by setting up a social networking website for community members to post their news stories.
VENDOR OF CHOICE: SMALL WORLD LABS
Founded in 2005, Small World Labs is a social media platform company that aims to help organizations unite people together
using online technology. With a list of clients including Oracle, Save the Children, and Scottrade, Small World Labs helps
companies build communities that work for their organizations. In 2008, Small World Labs re-created its platform technology
from an API prospective, allowing the platform to be integrated on any existing system and to be easily extended to work with
sites such as Facebook and Salesforce.com.
THE PROBLEM IN DEPTH Oscar Martinez, managing editor for neighborsgo, explains: “Too
With websites such as CNN.com becoming the first stop for many people were interested, and we were doing it entirely
eager news seekers, print publications feel the pressure to keep up through email. One of the worst things that happened [was], if an
in a world obsessed with instant information. Many newspapers, editor was absent or sick, contributors would get a bounce-back
both national and local, are going digital in hopes of engaging loyal email. It was a huge roadblock to communication.” Scores of
readers and attracting new ones. The Dallas Morning News jumped submissions flooded editors’ inboxes, creating a content
on the digital bandwagon to do just this, but it wanted to take bottleneck, which crashed servers and caused emails to bounce.
engaging its readers one step further by creating a social media site Both thrilled and daunted by its success, neighborsgo started
that would not only provide immediate access to important local looking for an alternative method for content submission that
news but also make reporting the news an interactive experience. would emphasize community-generated news. “We decided to
Four years ago, The Dallas Morning News created neighborsgo, launch a site that would do two things: It would facilitate
a newspaper that published stories written by community contributions from community, and it would really get into those
members. Originally, neighborsgo had an email-only submission communities more, so we would have more of [a] community
process, in which