Today’s #MediaMonday comes to us from Nancy Puffer, executive editor of My Local News – Arizona! This website is something we at HMA use frequently—at least weekly, but probably close to daily. If you haven’t yet heard of it, you need to read this because I’m sure it will soon make its way to your media lists.
So, Nancy, time to share.
What do you want to tell the blogosphere about yourself today?
First, let me say thank you for featuring me in #MediaMonday. I am flattered and delighted that you’d like to know more about me and My Local News – AZ.
Although I love my current job as executive editor at MLN, I didn’t start here. I’ve been a journalist in the Phoenix area for over 28 years. I started my journalism career as an intern at KPNX-TV Channel 12 in 1989 while I was a student at ASU. There was a steep learning curve in starting my career in one of the largest cities in the country; I was expected to learn fast, keep up with the pace, roll with the pressure and welcome direct and sometimes harsh criticism. But I learned from the best and I am still friends with many of my Channel 12 colleagues.
After my internship I landed an entry level job as a chyron operator at the station. Between newscasts I would beg the producers for any writing work they would give me so I could build my skills and claw my way up the newsroom ladder. One of my key mentors was former anchor Lin Sue Cooney. Lin Sue called me into her office one day while I was still very new. I was so scared I was shaking; I thought maybe I’d done something wrong! But she quickly put me at ease and told me I wasn’t in trouble at all; she actually noticed that I had some talent and wanted me to help her put stories together a few times a week so she could spend just a little more time at home with her kids before she came in to anchor the evening newscasts. I was thrilled and jumped at the opportunity! She was the kindest and most patient mentor, putting up with me while I learned and made mistakes and grew into a promising young journalist with a full-time job as an associate producer.
Within a year I was promoted to producer. I’d begun to win some awards for my work, and I was eventually charged with managing my own newscasts. I love features and lifestyle news, so they naturally put me in charge of the Saturday and Sunday morning newscasts. I had a lot of fun and was blessed with an amazing crew and some of the best anchors in Phoenix on those shows, including Ron Hoon, Connie Colla, Sean McLaughlin, Rick DeBruhl and Catherine Anaya. But eventually I was ready to move back to weekdays and took a job as a producer at KSAZ Channel 10, where I did everything from hard news stories, features and special projects to producing newscasts.
When my first child was born I decided to be a stay-at-home mom and I did a variety of freelance jobs for the next 18 years, including a long stint with The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com. I absolutely loved writing for The Republic, they gave me as much work as I could handle, and I did a little bit of everything for them. They eventually gave me my own community column called “Around Tempe,” which I wrote for 12 ½ years and published 355 columns.
I took the job as executive editor at My Local News-AZ in October of 2016 because I think the format has a tremendous amount of potential, I love the creativity and resourcefulness required during the organic growth phase, and the job offers me some flexibility. My good friend, Joseph Lewis, started MLN as a small, local newsletter called Tempe Thoughts in 2010 and it has morphed into an online local news source for more than 20 cities and towns around Arizona with a growing subscriber base of 125,000+. Together, I think we make a dynamic team; I have the journalism background and Joseph has the business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit. We bounce all kinds of crazy ideas off of each other and it’s really a lot of fun. I particularly love working with people to tell their stories in a creative way that they can easily share with their friends and families. I believe we’re really providing a valuable community service and we’re doing it at no charge to the consumer.
The way it works is people subscribe to https://mylocalnews.us and sign up to receive news about their city or town. They can visit our website or social media pages at any time for the latest local news, but we also send out a weekly digest of stories we’ve published to each particular city as well as a MLN digest the following day that features all of the news we’ve published for the week around the state, as well as my weekly editor’s column. We really want to make local news fun, interesting and relevant again.
The vast majority of our news is user-submitted content, so we strongly encourage our readers to sign up as a contributor and submit their own news stories, opinions, videos, restaurant reviews, events, and more. We really aren’t trying to compete with the major news outlets, so you won’t see things like real-time election results or live breaking news coverage on our site. We are dedicated to local, city-specific news, so if you submit a feature about something in Mesa, we’ll publish it on our Mesa site but not in Glendale, for instance (because the people in Glendale don’t care). We get a lot of direct-source news as well, so we have a lot of public relations professionals and municipal and school district information officers who submit content directly to our site. We do have standards, though, so we won’t just publish anything. Content submitted to us from an outside source typically comes across my desk prior to publishing.
We get a lot done with our small staff of four. Most of our user-submitted content is unpaid, but then we offer our platform free of charge to our contributors – even though it costs money to operate. We occasionally hire freelancers when needed. We also offer a freelancers page where they can advertise their writing services. Everything we publish goes out to all of our social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. Our biggest challenge right now is working out the technology kinks that continue to crop up in our platform as we continue to grow. We limit annoying pop-ups and ads to a bare minimum and our primary source of revenue is actually not ads, but real estate listings, so you’ll see some really cool houses for sale on our site.
If you’d like to subscribe to My Local News-AZ, please visit our website at www.mylocalnews.us. If you’d like to register as a contributor and submit content, follow this link: https://mylocalnews.us/publish3/.