HSPA’s InfoNet program, popular with members since its inception in 2010, is serving as a model content-sharing system.
The free service has grown to include coverage of the Indiana Statehouse, photos, and college news, and the system is one the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State is working to emulate.
The college, under the direction of Special Projects Director Larry Ganders, is developing a content-sharing system geared toward weeklies and small and mid-sized dailies.
After a grant-funded study detected gaps in press coverage in rural areas, Washington State set out to fill them through sharing newspaper content, Ganders said.
“Community newspapers should have a better way to exchange information among themselves,” he said. “And so we set to work doing it.”
With the support of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association, a group of 130 community newspapers, Ganders began researching what other states are doing with content-sharing services.
He found HSPA’s InfoNet.
“I repeatedly heard that Indiana’s press association system worked well,” Ganders said.
What distinguishes HSPA’s service is a dedicated web editor who identifies state news from member websites and posts stories to the content-sharing site, rather than relying on members to submit content, he said.
“Doing that takes care of problems that I hear in other states,” he said.
Ganders has no budget for the content-sharing website he’s developing, aside from man-hours the university contributes for him to work on it, and he found HSPAinfo.net’s relatively small budget particularly attractive, he said.
“The whole purpose of this is to help newspapers, not to give them another budget issue to wrestle with,” said Ganders, who spent much of his career as a reporter and editor in Oregon.
That’s precisely the goal of HSPA’s InfoNet service, said Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel.
“I’m pleased our program can be a jumping-off point for others looking to start a similar feature,” Key said. “Many of our members tell us they rely on content-sharing, and it’s positive to hear that outside groups see the value in it as well.”
HSPAinfo.net is invaluable for The Commercial Review (Portland), said Publisher Jack Ronald.
“While breaking news is not its focus, the site does a great job on trend stories in agriculture, the environment, economic development, and education,” Ronald said. “And when it comes to the Statehouse, HSPA complements rather than competes with the AP.
“Some of us were skeptical when the site was launched, but it’s now a resource we rely on daily,” he said.