Wayzata.com starts to get some press

Justin Piehowski writes Minnesota Blog Cabin for Minnpost.com, and was surprised that I am offering interships at Wayzata.com. Click here to see the article: Blogger sets up internship program

Piehowski gives his warm approval by indicating, “Kudos to Gustafson and the institutions supporting him in his move for tapping into the online publishing talent of the Millennial Generation. After all, the job prospects for these students are slim, particularly if their diploma says ‘Journalism.’”

For the full scoop on the questions he asked, I have posted my answers to his questions below:

JP: Where did the idea of getting an intern come from?

DG: Having interns is a common practice in media outlets as well as other professions. Interns are utilized to do things which are essential to an organization when it cannot or will not offer compensation, and it’s a great opportunity for the interns to learn the ropes of a job they may be interested in turning into a career. They get to see first hand how a media outlet or other organization works.

Beyond that, a business associate and friend of mine by the name of Rob Snell, who authored the book Starting a Yahoo! Business for Dummies, had suggested it to me a number of years back for an online store I was working on at the time—and I came up with the idea that an Internship Program would work well for new media websites like Wayzata.com. Additionally, I met and talked with Congressmen Jim Ramstad at the State Fair this summer, and he had a number of interns that traveled with him both observing and learning, as well as taking care of both important and not so important details.

JP -What do you plan to have them doing?

DG: The interns at Wayzata.com will be writing stories, creating podcasts, and recording and posting video related to the Wayzata Community. They may also be asked to fetch coffee, or do whatever else it is that needs doing at the time as these tasks build character. It is modeled on a traditional media internship.

Wayzata.com currently has 3 internships available. One will cover sports at the Wayzata High School. One will cover City of Wayzata issues, anything related to news releases, City Council Meetings, and happenings at City Hall. One will float from assignment to assignment depending on what is happening within the community.

JP -No compensation, correct?

DG: No compensation, but they will receive credit from their school for the participation in the Internship Program. In fact, they have to receive credit in order to be eligible to participate. There are huge advantages for an intern in that they have to complete assignments, work with deadlines, dig up a story; all the while they will be learning how to work in new media and internet. It’s free training, and the education they will receive will be priceless. They will also be published in a way that posting something on a Myspace or Facebook page cannot replicate.

JP -Are you looking for journalism majors?

DG: I am primarily looking for those interested in journalism and or broadcasting. However, other interests might work well. Someone whose interest might be marketing / communication could work with Wayzata businesses or the Wayzata Chamber of Commerce to promote business communication. A student with an Information Technology interest would fit well with developing new aspects of the site.

JP -What’s your background?

DG: My business background started with delivering the Omaha World Herald to the small and sleepy farming town of Essex, IA via my BMX bike. When I got my drivers license, I stocked shelves and was a cashier at Hy-Vee, the local grocery store. My degree is in marketing from North Park University in Chicago, IL. Since then I have worn many hats from bartender at Champps Americana in Minnetonka, to life insurance salesman, to shipping and receiving for a distribution company. At heart I was always an entrepreneur and investor. Anytime I was working a W-2 job I was also moonlighting trying to get something going on my own.

Besides Wayzata.com, I currently own and operate a number of residential income properties in Hennepin County. I am slated to begin a real estate radio show which will air on Saturdays from 11:00 – 12:00 on AM 1360 KRWC in Buffalo, MN, starting February 7th. Additionally, my wife Elisha markets nautical gifts and décor online at http://www.everythingnautical.com/. I help her semi-regularly with answering phone calls, chasing big orders, and smoothing over problems. She has been and is extremely supportive of my endeavors.

JP -Why did you decide to start Wayzata.com?

DG: I have been involved with and in the Wayzata community for over a decade, and have always been passionate about helping to facilitate communication in this very special place to live.

It started as a dream one night about 10 years ago where I was able to provide a forum or way to interact online for and with the Wayzata Community. Ever since then I have taken steps to provide that online community with the site to the best of my ability. It began by purchasing Wayzata.com from a local resident, up until now with what you see today.

JP -Do you make any money off the site?

The site has made modest amounts via advertising dollars.

JP -Do you hope to make any money off the site?

DG: I believe that there are large amounts of money to be made with a number of different programs that are being developed at Wayzata.com.

JP -Where do you get story ideas from?

DG: Number one, Elisha and I live in Wayzata, so being in the community helps substantially in knowing and finding the stories. Secondly, I watch a lot of Wayzata Community Television to know what is going on with the Planning Commission and Wayzata City Council so as to report on it. Thirdly, I read the local papers including the Star Tribune, the Lakeshore Weekly News, and the Wayzata Sun Sailor. I spend a lot of time browsing local websites to find out what is going on. People also email and call with tidbits that need to be developed.

JP -How has the community response been?

DG: Overwhelming positive. The site continues to have strong traffic. The Wayzata Alerts! email subscription list to Wayzata.com also continues to grow. A number of members of the City Council have communicated to me how impressed they are with the site and work I do as well, as well as many other members of the Wayzata community.

JP -You compete with the local papers…What’s your feeling on that? Do you ever get ideas from them?

DG: My feeling is that your statement is both accurate and not accurate in that Wayzata.com will continue to report the news, but that will be a small part of the network offerings.

I do get ideas from the local papers, but that is pretty common in the industry. KARE 11 will break something and Channel 5 or Fox 9 will immediately send a reporter to get that story as well. If you watch any of the local morning news shows, they basically read the Star Tribune verbatim to you as you sip your coffee and get ready to head out the door to the job. It does happen in reverse as well. I will report something and post it immediately, and by some quirk it will be on the front page of the local paper next week. I wonder if the Weekly News and the Sun Sailor are subscribed to my email alerts yet? If they aren’t, they should be.

It is going to be interesting to see what happens to the newspapers over the next 5 or 10 years. I don’t expect them to go away, but I don’t have a crystal ball.

That being said Wayzata.com is well positioned to carry all the news and notes for the Wayzata community at this time. I also own Wayzata.TV, and I have a plan for that domain to carry Youtube videos about Wayzata, as well as potentially on demand programming from Wayzata Community Televsion. I own Wayzata.biz, which seems like a great place for a local merchant directory. I own the toll free number 1-888-WAYZATA, which could be developed into one phone number for every business in town. “When you need a business in Wayzata, there is just one number to call…” Maybe I can get GB Leighton to do a nifty commercial for me like he did for Pizza Hut.

JP -Is there potential for people to do this in other communities?

DG: Yes. Take a look at Associated Cities for the biggest geo-domains in the country. The number one thing is that it takes a commitment to being on top of what is going on in the community. If you do it better than anyone else, nobody will be able to compete with you. It does not have to be the name of your town.com, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

JP -Do you know of other suburbs or communities around the Twin Cities that are doing what you do?

I am not aware of any other communities doing this, but after this gets published I would not be surprised to find a bunch of them.

JP -What’s the hardest part about running Wayzata.com?

DG: It is extremely time consuming, and finding the time to fit it in with all of the other demands in a day can be challenging.

JP -What’s the most rewarding part?

DG: Seeing the amount of readership at Wayzata.com. That and being recognized in Wayzata as someone that contributes a great public service.

JP -What else should I know about the site? What do you want to point out?

DG: Last year Signe Brewster, the Trojan Tribune Editor, (Wayzata High School Newspaper) and I agreed to a sharing deal with the approval of her teacher / advisor. Wayzata.com provides the Top 5 Stories of the Week from Wayzata for the Print edition of the school newspaper, and the Trojan Tribune emails stories relating to Wayzata students and happenings for publishing at Wayzata.com. It has survived the change in editor and continues to this day. I hope to ink more information sharing deals like this in town.

Newly elected Mayor Ken Willcox will be doing a regular segment with me the day after Wayzata City Council meetings to recap and explain what happened and why in a podcast to be named later starting on Wednesday, January 21.

If you want a recap of the 2008 Wayzata Football State Championship season, there is no better place to see it than Wayzata.com. Type Wayzata Football in the search box.

We encourage the community to interact with Wayzata.com, and look forward to developing long lasting relationships with the City of Wayzata, the Wayzata Chamber of Commerce, the Wayzata Historical Society, the Wayzata School District, businesses, residents, students, etc. Wayzata.com is designed for the benefit of community.

P.S. You mentioned I didn’t answer the airplane question in one of your recent articles. You are right I didn’t and don’t know the answer. That has never stopped me from talking about the subject matter! It is similar to talk show hosts not knowing the answer and asking their listeners to phone in the answer. I haven’t figured it out yet, but as soon as I do, you can bet it will be posted. For the full line of Ask Dan questions and answers, visit this link: http://www.wayzata.com/search/label/Ask%20Dan


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