Heard of Helium?
It’s not just that gas that fills balloons and makes you talk funny. It’s a chance to replace local news reporters with, well, anyone in the community who wants to write for a few bucks. And a major partner is the Hearst Corp.
Here’s the pitch from Helium’s own Web page:
“Who knows your community better than you? Helium has partnered with newspapers around the country – from Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Santa Rosa, California – to tap in to writers with the inside edge. You’re the ones who know the local dining hot spots, town politics, the real estate market, hidden shopping jewels, the best dog parks and more!”
“If you want to write for your local paper, here’s where to start. Find your newspaper on the list below. The link will take you to a page with links to the newspaper’s current titles as well as any Marketplace titles currently available. Check back often – we’re adding new newspaper partners every week!”
And if you look at the list of nine newspapers, six of them are owned by the Hearst Corp. All six are in Connecticut and fall under the jurisdiction of, you guessed it, Mark Aldam.
So if you’re a local reporter and think your work can’t be outsourced, think again. There is someone very excited to write about the best local dog park just waiting to cover your beat. Sure, most of the stories they generate are garbage, but we’re not sure a company that would change the name of its “Capital Region Voices” to “City Brights” because that’s what it’s called in San Francisco cares any more about quality or being truly local. This Web site shows the Hearst Corporation’s claims to care about quality are a bunch of hot air.