Three years ago, BoiseDev fired up its engines for the first time.
Earlier that year I left KTVB on great terms after 17 years – seeking a change. After taking a month off, I launched a digital consulting business.
But if you’ve ever started that type of effort – you know it can take a while to get actual work to do. Meetings, proposals, networking. As the 2016 election raged on, I watched a LOT of cable news and hung out with my dog.
So I decided to launch BoiseDev.com as a hobby. I’d been tweeting little nuggets for a few years, but the site gave me a bit more than 140 or 280 characters to tell a story.
Then a few funny things happened. On a whim, I applied to the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University – fully expecting the long odds would work against me and I would not be selected.
The digital business started to take off with several sizable contracts.
Then – I got the Stanford Fellowship. It meant packing up life for ten months and moving to California. It also meant putting the digital business on ice.
During that time, I kept BoiseDev going in a minimum state – writing stories from Stanford. I didn’t know if I would continue it after the fellowship ended, but figured stopping would stop any momentum. I spent nearly a year working with smart people trying to figure out ideas on how to make local news more sustainable.
A fast few years of growth
The work at Stanford led me to the obvious conclusion that the best thing I could do was to try and be part of the solution.
Two things sit at the core of this effort: journalism and community. Story ideas and direction come from our members – both paid, and in the BoiseDev Facebook group. The site uncovered improper spending, problems with infrastructure, and streets named for Game of Thrones.
In August, the site reached nearly 100,000 unique users. We partnered up with the Idaho Press for a weekly print Dev section. Our business model has been touted by Harvard University. We are piloting a membership acquisition project with a grant from the Lenfest Institute with our platform partner Pico. We launched a monthly podcast and free weekly newsletter.
The site is now far and away the most-read business news publication in Idaho – both in print and online.
Helping figure out the future of local news
I believe the future of local news — which is in great peril – isn’t in the hands of corporate giants worried about what Wall Street thinks. Instead, the future lies in the hands of small local outlets that worry about what Main Street thinks.
BoiseDev is the only locally-owned commercial news service in the area. Decisions and coverage don’t come from California or DC – they come from Boise. The site focuses on stories that might not get told otherwise. Dozens of them.
The site has been cited by dozens of news outlets – from Fox to Vox and People Magazine to CNBC. Some individual outlets have cited BoiseDev’s work dozens of times. The reason is simple: BoiseDev focuses on bringing new information to light – not repeating old items and running news releases.
With the support of members and our growing sponsor base – 2020 promises to be a big year. Thank you all, sincerely, for reading, sending tips, flagging a typo, joining the membership program, becoming a sponsor – or just stopping me in the street to say hi.