Metro Newspapers & Boulevards Launch Virtual Valley Network

They join NBC11, San Jose Inside, Los Gatos Observer, and Topix in local news initiative

march 7, 2008  08:34 am
News Release

San Jose, CA, March 7, 2008: An alliance of Silicon Valley media companies today announced a wide-ranging community-based news initiative called Virtual Valley Network that will span print, web, citizen journalism and broadcasting. The content partnerships will leverage the web to add depth to their community coverage and expand the diversity of voices in the valley's fast changing media landscape, executives at the local media firms say.

"We are concerned about the consolidation, layoffs and disinvestment in local publishing and want to make sure that communities here are well covered," says Dan Pulcrano, executive editor of the weekly newspaper Metro and CEO of its web company, Boulevards. "We will be expanding our news coverage and adding resources."

Two leading citizen journalism sites, San Jose Inside and the Los Gatos Observer, along with Boulevards' SanJose.com and LosGatos.com websites, will anchor the web portions of the Virtual Valley Network.

The network will encompass a wide range of perspectives in its commentaries on local affairs, from former San Jose Mayor Tom McEnery to Metro cartoonist Steven DeCinzo and activist journalist Raj Jayadev.

Stories from the websites and NBC11 will be shared among the alliance's members and excerpted in the new "Mashup!" section that debuted in Metro's March 5 issue. Similarly, Virtual Valley's broadcast partners will make use of material originating on the web or developed by Metro's reporting staff.

"We are leveraging the strengths of each organization to provide comprehensive, thought-provoking and timely news across many platforms so Bay Area residents can choose how best to stay informed and up to date," says NBC11 general manager and president Richard Cerussi.

Lively commentary will be expanded on San Jose Inside, the city's leading political blog as part of the content partnership. San Jose Inside, edited by Jack van Zandt, was launched in 2005 by Tom McEnery, who writes a weekly column for the site.

"There is a significant void in local media when it comes to political news and opinion," McEnery says. "We intend to fill it."

The Los Gatos Observer is the creation of Los Gatos resident Alastair Dallas, who has been providing on-scene, independent reporting of events in Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and the communities of the Santa Cruz Mountains for nearly two years. Many stories are written by community members, and the site blends immediacy with an archive of recent articles. Neighbors respond publicly to articles, providing multiple perspectives and fresh information.

"Local cross-media relationships like Virtual Valley are clearly a big part of the future here," says Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix, a Palo Alto-based aggregator of local news and commentary. Topix will make news feeds and forum technology available to the media sites.

The San Jose Mercury-News is expected to announce further layoffs on Friday. "Please send resumes," says Eric Johnson, Virtual Valley's editorial director. "We are looking for news writers and editors who know this market well."

For more information, contact:

Eric Johnson
Editorial Director
Boulevards New Media
(408) 454-1225
eric |at| boulevards.com

Meredith Smith
Public Relations Director
NBC Universal, KNTV
(408) 432-4318
Meredith.Smith1 |at| nbcuni.com