If you’re not already checking out events and announcements on ARLnow, you’re missing out.
Community submissions to both the event calendar and the announcement section have ramped up significantly this spring. It’s now an even better way to discover happenings and offerings around Arlington.
Some current examples:
- An outdoor silent disco in Virginia Square tomorrow
- A Makers Market in Pentagon City this weekend
- A Bike to Work Day event in Ballston next week
- New strength-oriented, music-forward fitness classes in Courthouse
- Physical therapy sessions for pregnant women and new moms
- Big discounts on braces for military families
In addition to going to the dedicated events and announcement pages, you can also see them under articles, in the middle of the homepage and at the bottom of our email newsletter.
For the past few weeks, ARLnow has been experimenting with an automated email newsletter that’s written almost entirely by AI.
The “ARLnow AM” newsletter sends at 8 a.m. each weekday morning and summarizes that day’s Morning Notes and the past day’s local news articles.
Aside from the headlines, the intro and the article summaries are all written by the GPT-4 generative AI model. Further, the email’s design was mostly coded by GPT-4 and the creation and sending of the email each morning requires no human intervention.
The idea behind the email was to give readers a morning alternative to our venerable Afternoon Update email without needing to use scarce additional staff resources.
The newsletter is admittedly not perfect. Let’s list the ways:
- We’re still working to refine the design. Coding an email newsletter that’s compatible with all email clients is much harder than it sounds.
- Sometimes the AI-written article blurbs miss factual nuances in stories.
- The AI-written intros are, for lack of a better term, corny. They’re also a bit repetitive. We’re trying to figure out ways to improve it.
- At this point, we have not included any local advertising. (According to our polling, at least, the ads from local businesses on ARLnow are seen as a generally positive feature of the site.)
So, the bottom line is that this is experimental and the blurbs should not be entirely relied upon for decision-making purposes. But, if you want a front seat to seeing how AI can be applied in local media, we’re offering a chance for readers to sign up and check it out.
Note that this is on a separate mailing list, so signing up will not affect an existing Afternoon Update or ARLnow Press Club subscription.
Local companies and community organizations share a challenge: figuring out how to get the word out quickly and cost effectively.
Good news: ARLnow has you covered.
Our recently revamped Announcements feature lets you self-publish an announcement, with an accompanying photo, directly on the website and our email newsletter. Fill out one form, and you’re done.
For just $99 your message appears:
- On the ARLnow homepage*
- Below ARLnow articles*
- In the ARLnow newsletter*
- In search engine results
The homepage gets 100,000 to 150,000 weekly views while our email newsletter has 16,000 active subscribers. Also, for an extra fee, we’ll boost your announcement via our Facebook and Twitter accounts, with about 100,000 followers total.
Post announcements here or, if your announcement is a job opening, use this form instead. Jobs listed are posted as announcements but in a optimized format.
* For one week, potentially in rotation with other announcements
ARLnow publisher Local News Now is seeking eager, goal driven and detail-oriented candidates interested in an account management role on our growing team.
This unique opportunity may be of particular interest to new college grads, stay-at-home parents looking to re-enter the workforce, and job switchers, especially those in the service and retail industries. It will provide training and hands-on account management experience to 1-2 individuals on a part-time basis, with flexible hours.
The goal is for the position to become full time by the fall — or sooner. (We are also open to hearing from those with directly relevant sales experience who are seeking an immediate full-time opportunity.)
Our company helps advertisers build and grow their business by providing them with individual support and solutions to a variety of business needs through display advertising, sponsored content, and social media on our sites and social platforms.
As an account manager, you will be responsible for helping our company grow by identifying potential advertising clients and engaging them via email. You will also assist with client relations, marketing, and operational responsibilities. This position does not involve cold calls or visits.
If you are outgoing by nature, adept at establishing interpersonal relationships, and possess strong organizational and problem-solving skills, this may the perfect way to put yourself on a path to a personally rewarding and financially lucrative career.
The ideal candidate should also have:
- Basic technical skills and ability to quickly learn new systems, like Asana, Airtable and Pipedrive
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- Sales experience and/or a customer service background
- The drive to make clients feel comfortable and supported
- Strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit; our team is self-disciplined and motivated
- An interest in social media and community outreach
- Familiarity with startup culture is a plus!
Local News Now’s office is based in Ballston. You’ll be expected to complete at least some of your job responsibilities at our office. Local News Now offers a close-knit team and a fun, startup-like environment to work and grow
This position will pay a competitive hourly rate plus performance-based bonuses.
To apply, please send a PDF resume or Linkedin profile link to [email protected]. In your email, include 2-3 paragraphs that concisely describe why you’re interested in this position and why you are uniquely suited to succeed in it.
Can you turn a quick story on a hen loose outside the Pentagon? Do debates over gondola transit between Arlington and D.C. captivate you? Are you the first to ask about a new business in town?
Arlington-based Local News Now, the publisher of ARLnow, is looking for energetic, creative and detail-oriented interns at our growing online news company. Interns will get hands-on local news reporting experience while working closely with editors and learning how to write interesting stories that encourage reader loyalty and engagement.
Three paid internships are available:
- General assignment reporting (2 positions)
- Audience engagement and social media management
The interns will report and work on projects across LNN’s three websites, with a focus on ARLnow in Arlington while also contributing to ALXnow in Alexandria and FFXnow in Fairfax County. We regularly write about everything from breaking news to government meetings to development and local business.
Candidates should be able to quickly learn new subjects, work under deadline pressure and have a passion for telling stories in engaging ways.
As we expand, we are bolstering our audience engagement strategies and will work with one of the interns to craft social media posts, as well as monitor and measure responses across various technology platforms.
Interns would work Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from June 1 through mid-August. The position is mostly remote (work from home), but interns should be able to go to local assignments and to our office in Arlington, as needed.
Local News Now is an innovative company focused on building a sustainable local news business model. LNN’s flagship website, ARLnow, recently celebrated its 12th anniversary. Since its founding, LNN has launched several other websites, including ALXnow, and recently announced the expansion of coverage in our existing Fairfax County market. LNN employs 10 full-time employees plus a number of freelance contributors.
If interested, email a resume and cover letter to [email protected] by March 21.
ARLnow’s advertisers aren’t just reaching a huge local audience, they’re helping us serve the community with award-winning local news coverage.
It has always been our focus to find the intersection of highly effective ads (for clients) and legitimately useful and interesting ads (for readers). In other words, ads that you actually want to read.
That’s why we’re proud to officially roll out our new 2022 Media Kit today.
With a greater range of cost-effective options, we can deliver more value to our clients and more locally-focused ads to our readers, while also reporting more local news.
We’ve kept pricing in the new Media Kit largely the same as 2021, as local businesses continue to recover from the pandemic. But we’ve added a number of new options, including:
- Posts with embedded forms and buttons
- Contests and giveaways
- Sponsored job listings
- Social media-only promotion, including on our popular Instagram account
In addition to those options, available by contacting our account team (via email, phone or the form below), advertisers can now quickly book four types of sponsored content via self-serve options:
- Listing of the Day (real estate)
- Job of the Day (job openings)
- Community Post (announcements, promotions, events, obituaries, etc.)
- Promoted Posts (any topic)
All four include links in our email newsletter, homepage placement, and optimized search engine indexing. The Listing, Job and Promoted posts are also promoted via social media.
Those are in addition to revamped featured events in our event calendar, on our homepage and in our daily email newsletter.
Our ad options provide a viable, local and affordable alternative to social media ads, which are increasingly expensive on a per-impression basis, and print ads, which reach an increasingly limited audience.
Local News Now, the Arlington-based publisher behind ARLnow, has a trio of announcements to kick off the week.
First, we have a new leader on the news side of things. Brandi Bottalico, who most recently served as an editor of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, has joined LNN in the newly created position of editorial team lead.
Brandi will work across the sites we own and operate in Northern Virginia, helping to lead our team of local journalists while guiding a number of editorial initiatives that we have planned over the next year. She started last week.
LNN now employs 10 full-time employees and two full-time contractors — nine on the news side and three on the business side — plus a number of part-time contributors.
Second, we have a new website. FFXnow will cover all of Fairfax County, with a hyperlocal focus on the Reston and Tysons areas. Our existing Reston Now and Tysons Reporter sites will be folded into FFXnow, though each will maintain their brand and identity as separate social media accounts and daily email newsletters, focused on each respective coverage area.
FFXnow will officially launch in February with three full-time journalists and plans to eventually expand to additional hyperlocal coverage areas within the county.
Finally, we have two new partners: Potomac Local (covering Prince William and Stafford counties) and Lake & McHenry County Scanner (covering part of suburban Chicago).
In addition to publishing our soon-to-be three owned-and-operated sites — ARLnow, ALXnow and FFXnow — LNN assists other local publishers with their web presence, advertising sales and other business services. The goal is to help our partners grow revenue, focus on readers, and do more local journalism.
The partnership with Lake & McHenry County Scanner represents our first expansion outside of the greater D.C. area.
These agreements — which join our existing partnerships with PoPville, Greater Greater Washington and Run Washington — will lead to continued expansion of our business operations, including more advertising sales and sponsored content production capabilities. The additional capabilities will also benefit our owned-and-operated sites, boosting revenue and allowing the sites to do more local reporting.
Local organizations interested in advertising can check out the new-for-2022 sponsored content and banner ad options here. We are also expanding self-serve options, like Community Posts, across our network of sites.
Arlington Has Been ‘Abnormally Dry’ — From the National Weather Service: “The latest Drought Monitor released shows an expansion of drought conditions across Virginia, the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, District of Columbia, and parts of Maryland. Abnormal dryness now encompasses most of the region.” [Twitter]
Introducing Commenter Badges — We’re giving the comment section an early Christmas present by rolling out new commenter badges. Earn badges by — among other things — accumulating 50 or more upvote on a comment, by posting useful corrections on an article, or by joining the ARLnow Press Club (members should reply to the morning email with your Disqus user name to request this). In all, there are a total of eight badges. [Disqus]
Nearby: Alexandria SROs on Leave — “The two school resource officers at Alexandria City High School have been removed from their posts and placed on administrative leave after a ‘serious complaint,’ according to the Alexandria Police Department.” [ALXnow]
It’s Friday — Today will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 62. Rain is likely overnight. Sunrise at 7:21 a.m. and sunset at 4:48 p.m. Chances of rain on Saturday, with a low of 44 and a high of 64. Mostly cloudy and breezy Sunday, with a low of 35 and a high of 61. [Weather.gov]
Photo courtesy Stefanie Johnson
On January 8, 2013, ARLnow published its first regularly-scheduled opinion column, written by Peter Rousselot.
Since then we’ve expanded to eight distinct columns, which run on a biweekly basis. In all, we have published nearly 2,000 articles from our opinion columnists since Peter’s first piece.
Times change, however, and we must not be afraid to adapt as the media landscape and reader expectations evolve.
In August we made the decision to end the columns at the end of the year. There were three primary reasons.
- A shift in reader perceptions of opinion content. Many readers now perceive the publication of an opinion piece to be a tacit endorsement of it.
- A change in reader reactions. We’ve noticed that in the comments, on social media and in emails people are increasingly engaging in personal attacks on our opinion columnists themselves, instead of just debating their opinions.
- A need to evolve. Nothing lasts forever and we need to keep what we publish on ARLnow fresh, interesting and relevant to our readers. While interest in the columns remain strong — Jane’s piece on leaf blowers is our most-read post of the year — it feels like it’s time to try something new.
The column decision followed a previous decision to end publication of all unsolicited letters to the editor and op-eds, which itself was made in the wake of the New York Times / Sen. Tom Cotton controversy.
Given the current state of social media and the national discourse, it is simply too fraught of an environment in which to pick what we do and do not publish among opinion contributions. And, frankly, there is no shortage of places where those with opinions can have them heard.
Whether publishing a missive on Medium, a thread on Twitter, or a comment in our comment section, those with opinions are not lacking options for getting them out there. What is more difficult is amplification — getting them widely read. Publication on the homepage of ARLnow is certainly a way to do that, and it’s a power that we take seriously.
As such, instead of rewarding those who write a few paragraphs and send an email with amplification in the form of a letter-to-the-editor post, we are instead considering such opinions for inclusion in news articles on a given topic. Those who have put in the work to get a petition widely signed, to start a coalition, to get politically engaged, to do in-depth research — and then to reach out to us — are more likely to get quoted in these pages.
In the case of the columns, the plan is to find new ways to highlight the perspectives of our current columnists, as well as other knowledgeable and civically-engaged locals. We’re not totally sure what form this will take, but we’re looking forward to working with contributors and readers to present a diverse and representative range of opinions in a way that adds meaningfully to the local discourse while minimizing toxicity.
In the meantime, we are saying goodbye for now to our current columnist lineup. The final Making Room, Community Matters, Modern Mobility and Ed Talk columns will publish this week. The final Progressive Voice, Right Note, Peter’s Take and What’s Next columns will publish next week.
Thank you to our columnists for sharing your time and your knowledge — and for your willingness to put your opinions out there, despite it all — in the interest of trying to make Arlington a better place.
Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash
Manafort Home Up for Sale — A house in the Clarendon area that was once sought as a forfeiture to the federal government as part of the case against Paul Manafort is now up for sale. The house is owned by Manafort’s daughter, though the feds once argued that it was paid for by Manafort with money transferred from a shell company in Cyprus. The 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath home is listed for $2.35 million. Manafort was pardoned by President Trump late last year. [Realtor.com]
Northam Announces Mental Health Funding — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced that the Commonwealth will commit $485 million in federal and state funding to address pressing challenges in Virginia’s behavioral health system. The plan includes targeted investments to alleviate pressure on state mental health hospitals, strengthen community-based services, and increase support for substance abuse treatment and prevention programs. The Governor made the announcement at the Arlington County Community Services Board and was joined by Senator Adam Ebbin and Delegates Mark Sickles, Patrick Hope, and Alfonso Lopez.” [Press Release, Twitter, Twitter]
Nearby: Route 1 Fight Brewing in Fairfax Co. — “There’s another fight brewing over a Route 1 redesign, this time in Fairfax Co. Neighbors feel VDOT has once again sought to make the road too wide for it to be walkable, posing safety issues.” [Twitter, Washington Business Journal]
Two new full-time employees and a summer intern have joined the ARLnow team, helping to produce a greater breadth and depth of local news coverage on our sites.
David Taube started last month and is primarily focused on reporting for our Fairfax County news sites: Reston Now and Tysons Reporter. He joins us from the Hearst Television national desk in Pittsburgh.
Dana Munro started last week as ARLnow’s first-ever Evening Editor. She will report stories, assist with breaking news coverage on weekday evenings, and work on our forthcoming premium membership offering, the ARLnow Press Club. Dana was previously a newscast producer for WBAY in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Anuj Khemka is ARLnow’s summer intern. Anuj, an Arlington resident, attends Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and is editor-in-chief of the student publication tjTODAY.org. He will report stories for ARLnow and our Fairfax County sites, in addition with assisting with special projects, including the launch of the ARLnow Press Club.
With the new hires our company now has 11 full-time employees, in addition to freelance contributors and interns.
Thank you to our advertisers, business partners, and Patreon members — who will be transitioned over to the Press Club once it launches — for your ongoing support, allowing us to sustainably grow and produce even more local journalism.