Interview with founders of hyperlocal community media iPutney

iPutney - a non-profit news site of Putney city community that in Vermont, USA. We interviewed the team of publishers who for 7 years are successfully engaged in community journalism.

Tell shortly please, when did you create your community media? Did you do it alone? What is your team now?
First I will describe our community.  We are a small town of approximately 2700 people in the state of Vermont, USA.  iPutney was started by two people after hearing from members of the community that there should be a "place" to go to learn about what is happening in town.  What began as a small group of citizens gathering approximately once per month, evolved in to the online forum know as iPutney.  This was approximately twelve years ago.

Did you have some funding at the start of creation? What was the amount of it?
At first we had no sponsors or budget.  When we found that we needed a small budget to assist with technical issues, such as web hosting and troubleshooting, we looked to community non-profit organizations for help.  We have four private educational institutions in our town (unusual for such a small town) and they donated $100-150 each. They remain our only donors.

By the way here are their websites:

Do you have salaries? Is that your only work or it is more like your hobby? 
We are a five person team of volunteers. We do not have salaries.  Again, we are a very small town. It may make sense for you to look at models that more closely match your community demographic (though we enjoy our contact with you and are happy to answer your questions).

iPutney WebSite

What is approximate amount you spent for your media in a month?
We use the Wordpress platform and pay very little. Total costs are about $100 a year for hosting. When we built the site, we spent about $150 in WordPress Theme and plugins.

What are you goals for development of your media?
Good question!  I think the iPutney organizers should get together to discuss this.  We recently changed platforms from "Geeklog" to Wordpress" and have been ironing out some wrinkles (problems) to make our site run smoothly allowing people to submit announcements and stories to the site.  Smooth operation is our current goal.  Another goal may be to update our sponsors' donations.

Does your media earn some money from advertisement or smth else?
No.  The small amount of $ we have from sponsors is put toward site development.

Can you call yourself absolutely independent media?
I believe we can.  

What are the difficulties in your work?
Since we are all volunteer, I think the distribution of workload among volunteers is an issue.  Some volunteers work more on the site than others and we do not want anyone to "burn out" or get tired and leave.  Also, sometimes technical issues arise that are beyond our abilities to manage.  In this case we look for people with more expertise to help.  Sometimes we pay these people a small fee.  Another thing that is difficult is deciding what we DO NOT publish and what our publishing parameters are.

And maybe you could give some advices for those Ukrainians who are going to create their own community media and don’t know what to start from and where to get funding from. 
My advice would be to check out other examples that closely match your own ideas.  Here is an example that is both print and online from the nearby community of Brattleboro, Vermont, USA

TheCommonsOnline - they use, primarily, advertising and independent donations to fund their media operation.  They also have some paid employees.   

Best of luck to you!  

Interviews were conducted under the Project "Fostering Civic Journalism in Ukrainian's Regions", supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. government.