Type of site
|Area served||New Jersey, New York, Florida|
|Key people||Michael Shapiro, CEO|
|Services||Online news and opinion|
TAPinto, formerly The Alternative Press, is a network of independently owned and operated local news websites based out of New Providence, New Jersey. The network covers towns throughout New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Florida. It was founded by New Providence residents Michael and Lauryn Shapiro in October 2008 to provide independent local news. In the past two decades there has been a seismic decline in local journalism, with many publications going bankrupt; in the coverage vacuum, hyperlocal online media such as TAPinto are often the only local news coverage that many communities get.
TAPinto operates on a franchise model. Each TAPinto site is independently owned and operated by a franchisee, who pays an annual fee and a percentage of advertising revenue to the owners. In exchange, the network provides a content management system and helps with both the business and editorial sides of their operation. Some sites are operated by individuals, while others are operated by a group of two to four people who each work on the site part-time. Many of the site owners are businesspeople, nonprofits, and one is managed by a university. Other site owners include journalists, such as magazine journalist Jackie Lieberman and former Star-Ledger reporter Fred J. Aun, who operates TAPinto Roxbury. Several are former editors for Patch Media, a hyperlocal news network formerly operated by America Online.
In 2014, the network was rebranded as "TAPinto" and began using the new web address of TAPinto.net. In 2016, TAPinto was the primary source when it covered how a Yorktown man won a $76,000 jackpot on the TV game show Wheel of Fortune; TAPinto reported that the contestant learned about the show's theme in advance and studied prodigiously, enabling him to solve an entire puzzle while only knowing the first letter. TAPinto was the first to report the meeting of comedians Stephen Colbert and Jerry Seinfeld at a taping of Seinfeld's show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee which was filmed in Montclair, New Jersey. It has sponsored political events such as the annual Meet the Mayors breakfast. TAPinto sponsored summittoday.org, a free community calendar for the city of Summit by providing a digital solution for content creation, as well as hosting the site free of charge.  TAPinto was also named 2017 Partner of the Year by NJ News Commons. 
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- Street Fight Magazine, Tom Grubisich, October 9, 2014, Mike Shapiro’s TAP Gets New Branding and a Network Strategy, Retrieved May 16, 2018, "...The six-year-old Alternative Press (TAP) network of community news sites in suburban New Jersey and Pennsylvania has a new name — TAPinto.net — and a new ... strategy aimed at leveraging content and audience reach across TAPinto’s sites, 32 of which are franchisees and a few wholly owned ... A former litigation attorney, Shapiro ..."
- Columbia Journalism Review, Susie Xie, March 25, 2016, https://www.cjr.org/united_states_project/new_jersey_sites_tap_into_local_news.php, Retrieved May 16, 2018, "...Within the past seven years, TAPinto has expanded to 51 sites ... Shapiro says the sites have received a combined 4.2 million unique visitors over the last year ... readership consisting mainly of local residents... About 500 businesses advertise with TAPinto, ..."
- TAPinto: About Us
- Media Shift, Stephanie Murray, December 18, 2017, Top 6 Journalism Collaborations of 2017, Retrieved May 16, 2018, "...the ranks of local journalists have been decimated in the United States over the last decade..."
- David W. Chen, The New York Times, January 3, 2017, In New Jersey, Only a Few Media Watchdogs Are Left, Retrieved May 16, 2018, "...Michael M. Shapiro is the chief executive and publisher of TapInto.Net, which started in 2008 and has expanded to 60 towns with a franchise model....."
- Michele McLellan, April 6, 2014, Can local news scale? The Alternative Press tests a franchise model in New Jersey, Knight Digital Media Center, Retrieved May 5, 2016]
- TAPinto.net Announces Launch of Bridgewater-Raritan Site, Franchised by Former Bridgewater Patch Editor and Current Newspaper Owner Audrey Blumberg
- Former Patch Editors See Bright Future for The Alternative Press Model
- Jaclyn Hendricks (March 30, 2016). "Contestant solves 'Wheel of Fortune' puzzle with one letter". New York Post. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
...$76,000 jackpot...“Wheel of Fortune,” ...correctly guessed the opening-round toss-up puzzle with the help of the lone letter “D” ... I came up ... list of puzzles themed ... anything on the water,” Santoli told local website Tapinto....
- My9NJ.com, Comedy filmed in Montclair's Bluestone Coffee Shop starring Seinfeld and Colbert, Retrieved May 16, 2018, "...TAP into Montclair was the first to report on April 9 that Jerry Seinfeld had been spotted in Montclair's Bluestone Coffee..."
- Ledger Local (March 10, 2016). "Area Chambers to host 'Meet the Mayors' Breakfast on April 2 in West Caldwell". NJ.com. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
...Six local Chambers of Commerce ... League of Women Voters ... New Jersey State League of Municipalities as hosts of the annual "Meet the Mayors" Breakfast. ..Media sponsors are: TAPinto ....
- Ledger Local (December 1, 2015). "Local organizations Summit Today, city-wide community calendar". NJ.com. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
...More than 25 organizations in Summit have joined together to create summittoday.org, a free community calendar that is available for non-profit and other local organizations to post information online about events in Summit....TapInto Summit generously donated a digital solution for content creation and development of the site, and will continue to host it free of charge as a service to the community.
- Joe Amditis (February 2, 2018). "Center for Cooperative Media announces winners of the 2017 NJ News Commons Excellence in Local News Awards". Center for Cooperative Media. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
...The 2017 Parter of the Year award went to TAPinto.net and its growing network of independent and franchisee publications. TAPinto increased the number of franchisees from 54 to 71 sites in 2017, 66 of which are independently owned. That’s helping more communities in New Jersey get access to news and information about the place they live. The company’s total site traffic also increased by 29 percent and the number of unique users grew by 32 percent.....
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