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The Daily Tar Heel

Chapel Hill Magazine to begin publishing 'The Weekly'

Dan Shannon is hoping to squeeze one more publication in to the local media market.

Chapel Hill Magazine’s The Weekly is a new newspaper that will focus solely on local news in Chapel Hill.

Shannon, publisher of Chapel Hill Magazine, Durham Magazine and now The Weekly, is spearheading the project.

Shannon said he feels newer media sources like the internet leave a hole in the market when it comes to local news.

“The internet hasn’t figured out local yet,” Shannon said.

The Weekly will capture the interests of Chapel Hill residents through stories on local events, entertainment and middle and high school sports, Shannon said.

“I think a successful model for a newspaper is local, local, local,” he said.

As early as Valentine’s Day week 2,000 free copies will be sent out to different homes. Another 5,000 copies will go to newsstands for sale and to other locations, Shannon said.

Jock Lauterer, a senior lecturer at the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said he wasn’t sure how The Weekly would compete in a town already saturated with news outlets.

“This is a bold but risky venture in a media-rich environment,” Lauterer said. “He’s coming into a crowded playing field.”

Lauterer said the various news outlets in Chapel Hill make it difficult for new startups to enter the market.

“Local news is the only game in town,” he said.

Ruby Sinreich, founder of liberal blog OrangePolitics, said she was not convinced an incoming publication would bring anything new to the table.

“I haven’t really heard what he thinks they’re going to be doing that others don’t already do,” Sinreich said. “What this one will offer that’s new remains to be seen.”

Lauterer said that when a new media outlet enters a market, it gets the attention of the audience and raises competition.

“The question is: Five years from now, who’s going to be left standing?” he said.

But Shannon said he doesn’t think The Weekly will have any problem finding its place in the community.

“When you give someone a publication that’s associated with the town they live in, and it’s done really well and successfully and smartly, people embrace it,” Shannon said.

Ultimately, Lauterer said The Weekly could only improve the quality of news coverage in Chapel Hill.

“In 2011, an ink-on-paper startup with a community focus cannot be a bad thing,” Lauterer added. “I wish him all the luck in the world — he’s going to need it.”

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