Investors, Google Try Radical Hyperlocal Project In Czech Republic

Money may be draining out of journalism in many parts of the world, but one organisation in the Czech Republic is actually investing in setting up a new hyperlocal journalism network – and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is on board, too. Investment firm PPF Media sold its stake in the country’s TV Nova network to Central European Media in 2005 and is now creating Naše Adresa (“Our Address”), a city-by-city grassroots initiative to create community newspapers and websites.

PPF quietly announced the project for a June start last month, when director Roman Gallo said: “We believe that the interconnection of online and printed media is the future of the industry.” PPF told paidContent:UK on Monday it is investing “tens of millions” of Czech koruna, “less than 100 million”, in the project (for an indicator, 25 million koruna is about £840,000) – the first phase would see seven regional papers and websites launch, with a second phase likely later.

As the International Herald Tribune reported Monday, community newsrooms will be created in new cafes, where local citizens will get to mingle with, and get trained by, staff reporters. Gallo: “The position of the journalist is not just to be observing and writing something on the newspaper or on the web, but also to help people have the tools to do something in their community. While everyone else is closing, we are expanding.”

PPF is working on the project with the World Association of Newspapers, Google and content management system vendor Atex. Google is providing know-how, we were told, but it’s also viewing the partnership strategically – if Naše Adresa takes off, it could help the search site compete with local portal operator Seznam, the company’s Czech director Tatiana Le Moigne told PPF, meanwhile, is also creating an International Multimedia Training Centre.