OMG—the WNC Online Media Guide makes its first public debut

The Washington News Council recently held the first public presentation of its Online Media Guide (affectionately referred to as OMG). The project, which is still under intense development, combines a database and maps of over 800 print, broadcast, and online news and information sources statewide. Sources include: daily and weekly newspapers, radio and television stations, hyperlocal neighborhood websites, independent blogs, civic groups and associations, government agencies, business sites, community organization newsletters, and other media sources around the state.

Under the guidance of John Hamer, WNC president, the project is being spearheaded by WNC Communication Strategist, Jacob Caggiano, with the assistance of independent web developers Brian Glanz and Charles Hamilton.  “The project idea originated at the Journalism That Matters gathering last January at the University of Washington,” said Hamer. “We believe this is an exciting and valuable resource for the public.”

About twenty people from Puget Sound businesses, organizations and governmental agencies showed up at the downtown Pyramid Alehouse for the presentation. The lively discussion that followed focused upon potentials for applications and monetizing the project.

“This is a tremendous body of work,” said Mark Briggs, director of media for Belo Marketing Solutions. “A super rich database for public relations and marketing firms to know who to target.”

“I used to know all the media, but it’s impossible to know everyone anymore,” said Rick Olson, director of government relations and communications for the Puget Sound Regional Council. “We’ve been looking for a guide and I’d pay for access if I was satisfied about the quality of the data.”

In addition to contact information, the OMG contains information on each organization ‘s coverage area, means of support, and even its political orientation. As the project is funded, the information base will be expanded. “It all started with the basic directory,” said Caggiano. “We’re providing the places to go look. Data mining can come later.”

One common concern that arose from the audience was how often the information in the guide would be updated. Hamer acknowledged this was a matter of considerable importance, and that maintaining the staff to keep the data fresh was one of the reasons the News Council is looking for ways to monetize the project. One potential solution was to make the data updatable by the media organizations themselves. Also possible was the purchase of “upgraded listings” with higher visibility in the OMG similar to Yellow Pages ads.

All in all, the reception for the OMG was warm and enthusiastic, and participants were eager to be kept in the loop about its further development.

For more information about the WNC Online Media Guide go to: http://wanewscouncil.org/omgwashington/