As publisher of Elizabeth Inside Out, Sylvia Jauregui has brought online news to a market starving for good local reporting. Despite her award-winning ways, however, Jauregui was hard pressed to find time to manage editorial content while selling ads to support the site.
Meanwhile Jauregui did make time to participate in the Community Journalism Executive Training (CJET) held at Montclair State University in May and sponsored by NJ News Commons. At the training, Jauregui networked with her peers and found that Jerry DeMarco, an award-winning reporter and editor himself, was interested in diversifying Cliffview Pilot, a news website that he publishes covering breaking news in Bergen County. The two struck up a deal for DeMarco to manage content on Elizabeth Inside Out.
Here’s the full scoop:
When did you start collaborating on Inside/Out? Who came up with the idea?
Jerry: The genesis was during CJET at Montclair State. The members of our group, led by Joe Michaud, spent less time concerned with our individual plans than with ideas for partnering (you may see at least one other partnership from that unit bloom in the coming weeks). Sylvia immediately saw the potential for us collaborating. When Julio [Sabater] showed up that Saturday, it really began to fall together.
How does it work?
Jerry: I manage an outstanding reporter, Karla Coral, who has a great nose for news. Although I will assign her at times, she’s so active that stories just keep coming in. She’s methodical in working sources — but, even better, she can zip to a scene, get photos, talk up witnesses, and be back before you can blink. Sometimes I return an edit for her to post; sometimes I post myself. We’ve quickly reached a good mix of hard, breaking news and community events. (DeMarco notes that a separate reporter handles Spanish-language stories.)
How’s it working out so far? Do you like working together?
Jerry: I LOVE working with Sylvia, Julio and Karla. They have such great ideas and are very receptive to mine. The best is when we don’t see entirely eye-to-eye. We have great discussions that always lead to solid solutions.
How do you manage working on both?
Jerry: I’ve cloned myself … Heh-heh …. Seriously: I’m an adrenaline junkie, so it’s great. At times there will be a lull on one site while the other is busy — which gives me steady action all day. When both are popping at once — now THAT’s fun.
Sylvia, what prompted you to hire Jerry?
Sylvia: The first reason why we partnered with Jerry is because we really understood that we needed someone who knows the language and the culture and someone who has experience editing and managing an online publication. Jerry has been doing that for so many years. He knows how to talk to detectives and elected officials. We are very happy because he brought the professional journalism we were missing. I’m a journalist but I come from television production, not investigative reporting. Now the site really has an essence.
Second, we needed to use our time very wisely. I was using my time inefficiently. Jerry can do in a half hour what took me six hours to do. Now I do public relations, sales, logistics, marketing and get money so I can pay Jerry! It’s the perfect marriage. I have more time to monetize the business and find new people who want to join as sponsors or who want to contribute in some way.
So how is business? Is the site growing? Are you selling more ads?
Sylvia: We’re growing. We have more readers and we’ve added new towns — Hillside, Roselle, Clark. We now have Verizon as a sponsor and PNC Bank. These corporations are looking for ties close to the community. They want to be a part of our community. They want to be part of a local site.
Sounds like you are happy with the partnership!
Sylvia: I’m very happy that I went to the CJET workshop in Montclair because it was a great opportunity. I was looking to find someone like Jerry. That was a breakthrough.
NJ News Commons will continue to follow the partnership between DeMarco and Elizabeth Inside Out. Stay tuned!