Trenton has a new website dedicated to covering the emerging arts community. PlanetTrenton.org went online on Saturday, with its top story on an upcoming arts exhibit at Hopewell Valley Vineyards featuring Trenton-based and Trenton-inspired artists.
The site’s creator, Krystal Knapp, says the arts community doesn’t get the attention it deserves and she wants change that with Planet Trenton. Knapp says coverage of traditional news, like city council meetings and education, will come later. For now she plans to focus on lots of coverage the arts.
Knapp says she is approaching this with a Trenton-centric plan. “Each community has its own unique identity, and I would never want to have a cookie-cutter site. Some failed attempts at scaling hyperlocal news have taken a cookie-cutter approach. I consider these websites boutique news sites covering local communities,” she said.
Knapp got the word out Saturday at a launch party held at Trenton Social, a restaurant across the street from the Sun National Bank Center. Among those who showed up included Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes and North Ward Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson.
Knapp is the creator of the successful hyperlocal news site, Planet Princeton, which in just three years has been indispensable for breaking news. On Oct 9, 2014, Knapp was the first to report that NBC News Chief Medical Editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman was violating her 21-day voluntary quarantine, after Snyderman returned from Liberia where she covered the Ebola outbreak.
Knapp has run Planet Princeton as a for-profit website, and recently raised $25,000 in a crowdfunding campaign to support her efforts. She says advertisers in Princeton have begun to approach her asking to become sponsors.
Knapp says she set up Planet Trenton as a non-profit. “Trenton doesn’t have the same advertising base as Princeton,” she explained. For that reason, Knapp plans to appeal directly to her readers and foundations that care about the arts community in Trenton. “I’m really counting on grants, individual donors and not just in Trenton. A lot of people in Princeton want to support Trenton through the site. Donations will be tax deductible.”
Plans include expanding Planet Trenton beyond news gathering. Knapp says she already has plans for an online store for artists. She is also planning to strengthen the ties between Trenton and Princeton which are only about a 10-minute drive apart. For example, she is planning on an arts event that she may call “Trenton Makes, Princeton Takes” for Hinds Plaza in Princeton. Trenton artists will display their work outside of the Princeton Public Library and Princeton residents can see their work. “Some people don’t come to Trenton to see art exhibits, so I thought, ‘Let’s bring Trenton to them.'”
Before creating Planet Trenton and Planet Princeton, Knapp worked as a staff reporter for the Times of Trenton for nearly 10 years.