TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
The Kansas City Star’s “Dollars & Sense” site, a new personal finance companion to the paper’s main business section, is expected to draw 350,000 hits this month and is attracting new readers to the paper.
The site, which launched the last week of October, is “already one of the most popular blogs at KansasCity.com, and the growth trend, if anything, is accelerating,” says Chris Lester, the paper’s assistant managing editor for business. “Clearly, there’s an ample audience for this sort of approach. The challenge going forward is to monetize that audience in an exceedingly difficult economic environment.”
“Dollars & Sense” emerged from ongoing discussions on the business desk about how it couldÂ do more for its readers — amid the economic and financial turmoil — online and in real time.
“Like everyone else in the industry, we’re groping toward a new businees model that would essentially become an online business and personal finance magazine and social networking site,” says Lester.
A majority of content on the site comes from the paper’s business desk staff. (Even Lester has posted on the site today.) The Star also has a few community contributors who provide commentary, including the chief investment officer of the Kauffman Foundation. The site also includes breaking news that includes wire feeds, and Lester says it will shortly restore its video feed.
“We emphasize local news and information that our audience can use to make or save money,” says Lester.
The most popular topics on the site include breaking news, the mortgage market, local store closures, local company Sprint and automaker news.
Since the site launched, the Star added a “Hire Me” forum for the newly unemployed job seekers. More topic areas on the left side of the page are in the works, says Lester.
“So far, we’re getting run-of-site ads,” says Lester. “The revenuers have proposals for page-specific ads on the street.”