The Fastest-Growing Media Companies in America

Community news in Texas, private mags for colleges

Inc. magazine has released its annual list of the 5000 fastest-growing private companies in the country. Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, only fifty-nine of them are media companies. (Joe Pompeo at Business Insider made a slideshow highlighting ten of them.)

That number, fifty-nine, is actually misleadingly high, though, because some companies listed under the “Media” category aren’t quite what you’d expect. For instance, “Bill Bartmann Enterprises focuses on creating books and media for entrepreneurs, and also provides online videos, multi-day live events, and personalized coaching services.” Another, IMVU, is “an avatar-based social network and virtual world where people meet and interact in 3D.” And the few news companies on the list tend to be highly specialized trade publications.

But after some scrolling, things get start to get interesting. Some highlights:

Number 717 on the list (ranked 13 within the media category) is Community Impact Newspaper, a news site serving central and southeast Texas. Headquartered in Pflugerville, Texas, it was founded in 2005 and now employs sixty people. It publishes eight different versions tailored to separate neighborhoods, both in print and online. A recent article discussed urbanization and expansion into land that was previously used for agriculture in Harris County. Another explained proposed budget cuts in Bee Cave and Austin; like many others, it was illustrated with several vibrant infographics that pop up and fill the screen with a click.

Issue Media Group, number 1,672 on Inc.’s list, has developed many community websites, for places like Detroit and Cincinnati. The sites have original features and contributors’ blogs, as well as the neighborhood profiles and event listings you would expect from a community website. The sites’ strength is a strong emphasis on photography, as in this profile of Cincinnati musician Baoku Moses.

614 Media Group publishes several magazines and websites that all focus on two markets: Columbus, Ohio and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They aim for the young readers with UWeekly, a weekly news tabloid for The Ohio State University, and Tiger Weekly for Louisiana State University. (Each has a circulation of 20,000.) An article published Wednesday addresses the trend of LSU students forgoing housing fees for couch-surfing and dumpster-diving, either by choice or by necessity.

Two more on Inc.’s list (numbers 3,405 and 3,748, respectively) are advertisement-heavy giveaways: El Clasificado is a Spanish-language paper in Los Angeles (weekly circulation 410,000), and Advocate Media serves several neighborhoods in and around Dallas (boasting “200,000 loyal readers).

I was initially surprised to see that Inc.’s list didn’t include any type of SEO/ROI content-farmy companies like Demand Media, which we’ve been hearing so much about lately. I must have missed the news of Demand Media’s IPO registration filing, which reveals how little money they are still making, despite its investments and growth. Maybe in 2011, DM?

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Lauren Kirchner is a freelance writer covering digital security for CJR. Find her on Twitter at @lkirchner