Article: When a Community News Site Becomes a Facebook-only News Outlet…

Rockville Central: set to become a Facebook-only outlet » Nieman Journalism Lab » Pushing to the Future of Journalism.

Excerpt: ” … Starting March 1,Rockville Central, a community news outlet for the DC-area city of Rockville, Maryland, will move its operation to…its Facebook page. Entirely to its Facebook page.

“There are always two different conversations going on,” Cindy Cotte Griffiths, the site’s editor, told me — one on RockvilleCentral.com, and the other on the site’s Facebook page. Why force the two to compete with each other, when they’re actually, in general, the same conversation? Facebook is, Cotte Griffiths notes, “where the people are.” (Rockville Central currently gets about 2,000 of its average 20,000 monthly hits from Facebook, she told me.) …

[[[ JC: Here’s the most interesting section: ]]]

” …The most immediately obvious drawback, though, is that a site hosted on Facebook can’t host its own local ads. In fact, to make the switch, Rockville Central had to return money to its advertisers.

And that’s a sacrifice it’s willing to make. Profit, Cotte Griffiths notes, isn’t itself the site’s overall goal: She and Rourke see the outlet not so much as a money-making vehicle as an experiment in civic engagement. (That gives Rockville Central much more financial flexibility than, say, The Batavian or theWest Seattle Blog, which function not merely as labors of love, but also as livelihoods for their publishers.) “For entities and organizations that are trying to turn a profit, or have other institutional or organizational reasons to have a separate identity, it can make sense to have a separate web space,” Cotte Griffiths and Rourke note. “But Rockville Central is different and, as we thought hard about it, we realized we could find no compelling reason that Rockville Central needs to exist as a separate rockvillecentral.com site.”

Then again, Rockville Central isn’t, you know, opposed to turning a profit. And building a strong, committed community on Facebook, Cotte Griffiths points out, could be a means toward developing non-ad-based revenue streams in the future, from hosting conferences to staging community events. (Cotte Griffiths’ day job? Event planner.) …. “