RiverheadLOCAL is the first all-digital news media accepted for membership in the New York Press Association.
The 160-year-old organization of community news publishers includes more than 727 weekly newspapers, 58 dailies and 147 culturally-specific newspapers across N.Y. state.
The press association’s membership voted last September to approve a new class of membership for digital-only publications. Eligibility standards include: regular publication for two consecutive years; published using recognized standards of professional journalism; website content revised multiple times per week; devotion to the dissemination of original local or general news content, at least 50 percent of which is created by local staff; an office in the state open to the public during regular business hours.
“NYPA’s goal is to ensure that the future of New York’s community newspaper industry maintains the significance and relevance that local readers have come to expect,” according to the group’s website.
“We are glad the New York Press Association recognizes that the manner of delivering local news to local communities is changing in our technology-driven environment, and we’re delighted the organization has offered membership to independent digital news publishers like us,” RiverheadLOCAL editor and copublisher Denise Civiletti said. “As a former editor and copublisher of a community newspaper group, I know how valuable membership in NYPA can be.”
RiverheadLOCAL is also a member of Local Independent Online News publishers, a national organization dedicated to independent digital-only news publications. Civiletti is a member of the LION board of directors.
RiverheadLOCAL also belongs to the Press Club of Long Island, the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Launched in 2010, RiverheadLOCAL last year served up 3.2 million pagesviews to more than 423,000 people, who visited the site 1.5 million times, according to Google Analytics, said copublisher Peter Blasl. In January, the site had 190,983 visits from 70,554 people, topping 391,000 pageviews ‚Äî posting numbers more than 25 percent higher than any other month since it began publication, including the next highest-trafficked month, November 2012, immediately following Hurricane Sandy and the ensuing gas crisis, when the site became a hub for disseminating and sharing community information. (Its Sandy coverage won a L.I. Press Club award for “best use of social media.”)
“This is a really exciting time to be in the community news business,” Civiletti said. “New technology allows news publishers to provide so many different kinds of content to people: video, audio, live video, live blogs and online discussions. There are so many possibilities. And social media increases interaction with the community,” she said.
“It fosters real community online,” Blasl said, noting that RiverheadLOCAL’s Facebook following has grown to nearly 12,500 people and a discussion group started by RiverheadLOCAL called “Remembering Riverhead” has more than 2,250 members.