Flipboard Expands Local Coverage, COVID-19 Vertical

Flipboard is speeding up the expansion of its Local initiativeas users seek out information about their communities as the COVID-19 virus spread in the U.S. 

The content aggregation platform, which lets users create their own magazine-like packages with aggregated content from other sources, is increasing the number of metro areas included in its Local hub. It's adding more coverage around the coronavirus from local sources and building out coverage with new media partners.

Flipboard’s Local initiative launched in January to bring together regional publishers and national stories of local interest. The hub curates content from regional newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, college news sites and blogs. It also features national publishers’ coverage of local topics.

Now, Flipboard is adding coverage to 12 new metro areas: Baltimore, Charlotte, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Raleigh, Salt Lake City, St. Louis and Tampa Bay.

Flipboard is also expanding its COVID-19 coverage for all 35 metro areas now part of its Local initiative. The platform launched a news hub focused on the outbreak two weeks ago. 

In each city, Flipboard works with local partners, such as The Plain Dealer, the Detroit Free Press and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“With the rapid spread of COVID-19, local newsrooms provide the most relevant information for where their readers live as they closely monitor and report about the situation on the ground, such as local ordinances and testing stations,” according to a release.

Patch and ProPublica are also joining the initiative to include coverage on COVID-19 and the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

The ProPublica Local Reporting Network works with 23 local news organizations across the country.

“Understanding the decisions state and local governments make and their impact on the community is not only important, but gives people a greater connection to their local leaders and the media,” stated Marci McCue, vice president of content and communications at Flipboard.

President of Patch, Warren St. John, said its local COVID-19 coverage includes almost 200 stories a day. “This integration with Flipboard’s local initiative will increase discovery of this important information,” he said.

Flipboard will continue to expand its Local hub throughout 2020, according to the company. 

This comes as local papers and magazines — already fighting to stay afloat — have struggled more since the COVID-19 virus hit the U.S., damaging the economy and stunting the ad industry.

Alt-weeklies in particular are being hit hard.

Last week, we reported The Sacramento News & Review, a free alternative weekly in Chico, California, is suspending publication and laying off employees. 

“Over the last 30 years, we have financed SN&R with advertising, mainly from local businesses promoting social gatherings at concerts, theaters, galleries and in bars and restaurants,” president and CEO Jeff vonKaenel wrote to readers. “The coronavirus-related shutdowns, postponements and cancellations are having a huge impact on these advertisers and our local economy,” he said.

The nearly 120-year-old Sunset magazine has laid off a large number of its staff. Employees are on unpaid leave until April 3.

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