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The Internet Still Seeks a Pulitzer

Stocks in this article: AOL CMCSA GRPN YELP Z

Sites like Yelp (YELP) organize local food markets but don't seem able to bring in cash from restaurants without risking scandal, described here by Epicurous. Sites such as Angieslist organize local services, then charge people to read what is written about these services.

What I was told about journalism 35 years ago at Northwestern's Medill School remains true today. It's about organizing and advocating a place, an industry or a lifestyle. It's about making markets. It's not about writing, not about covering news, it's about organizing people who want to sell stuff to those most likely to buy that stuff.

Advertising is wasted money unless it turns into sales. If you can bring a merchant sales, you're worth more to them than a piece of their ad budget -- you're their partner. Local advertisers are flocking to sites like Scoutmob and Groupon (GRPN) because they bring in customers, but the cost is extreme when the necessary discounts are included.

I guess what I'm saying is there are huge opportunities here for connecting local businesses to local customers, and lots of people who will do the advocacy part of the business for very little money. What we need, still, are local publishers willing to do the hard work of organizing these places, these industries, these lifestyles, turning them into marketplaces.

If Joseph Pulitzer were around today, he'd know. So would Joe Medill. They don't put journalists' names on the journalism schools, only those of entrepreneurs. And there's a huge opening here. If you can build a business model that works, you can still wash, rinse and repeat yourself to a fortune.

When you do I won't laugh at you. I'll be offering you my resume.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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