Mansfield has a new online news site.
Well, in a way it does.
In the last five years, Richland County has seen the closing of one weekly newspaper, the Bellville Star, and the arrival of a new independent online news site, 1812Blockhouse. Other than that, the media scene has been rather stable with daily and weekly print publications, as well as another independent online site and a TV/online newsroom, continuing to operate.
A newcomer has possibly joined that mix.
The newly arrived publication has the city’s name on its masthead, but its content, at least so far, bears only a minimal connection to the area. It’s called The Mansfield Times, and it can be accessed at www.mansfieldtimes.com.
The arrival of the Times, and more particularly the company or consortium of companies which apparently publish it, comes at an interesting time in the evolution of news media nationwide. The Mansfield Times is a product of a company called “Metric Media LLC,” which has been “in the news” recently both nationally and locally.
Nationally, the company has been profiled in a handful of posts over the last several months. An October 2019 story in the New York Times titled “Mimicking Local News, a Network of Michigan Websites Pushes Politics” was one of the first pieces to look at Metric Media, which shared the following:
“According to the “About Us” section on the websites, they are published by Metric Media, a company that says it was founded to fill “the growing news void in local and community news after years of steady disinvestment in local reporting by legacy media.”
Other stories have appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review and this piece in Nieman Journalism Lab – “Hundreds of hyperpartisan sites are masquerading as local news. This map shows if there’s one near you.”
Metric Media has posted a list of its current sites, which number over 1,000. That listing can be found here.
The national story of Metric Media LLC took a new turn recently, and that development actually took place right here in north central Ohio. For the first time the company purchased an existing news operation, the Mount Vernon News, that nearby city’s longtime newspaper. While reducing the number of days it will continue to provide a print version, the new owners stated hat they wanted the News to remain a part of the community.
Knox Pages, an online only publication affiliated with Richland Source, profiled the purchase in a post titled “Chicago-based Metric Media buys Mount Vernon News, trims print product to 2 days per week” that provides additional information.
Within days, Metric Media had made a second purchase of an existing newspaper, the Kern Valley Sun in Lake Isabella, California.
While some Metric Media sites have a modicum of content, The Mansfield Times’s current posts are composed almost exclusively of reports on such things as gas prices and dated national business briefs. Several of its pages did not work as of the date of this post.
So, for the time being, while times are certainly a changin’, it remains to be seen just what that change will be.
For 1812Blockhouse, it’s business as usual – sharing stories we hope you will find objective, interesting, and entertaining, as well as hosting the only place to find daily-updated links to the best writing and news from other local media. If The Mansfield Times starts publishing local content, we’ll certainly give it a look.