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Daily Record launches InfoPoint database

The Daily Record is launching a searchable database of information aimed at the company’s core subscribers in the business, legal and real estate professions.

InfoPoint, which was officially released Wednesday after two years of development, aggregates information located across multiple platforms in one place — it’s a “one-stop shop” for the business community, said Publisher Suzanne E. Fischer-Huettner.

“It really ties back to the core of who we are: It’s real estate, legislative, legal and business information,” she said. “Those are our main beats.”

The online database — infopoint.thedailyrecord.com — is divided into three core data sets and includes new incorporations, construction bids, contracts and residential and commercial real estate transactions in Maryland.

The database will evolve as new business and legal information is entered, said Christopher A. Eddings, president of The Daily Record and director of publishing operations at The Dolan Company, its parent.

The idea, Eddings said, was to identify what tools readers would find useful in addition to the content already produced by Daily Record reporters.

“We did a lot of focus groups, and we learned that our readers, and potential readers, like to get information their way,” Eddings said. “And that’s our intent here. If they want to reach deeper into the source material, it’ll be there. … It was very clear that some people like to slice it and dice it in their own way.”

Ronald A. Yaros, an assistant journalism professor at the University of Maryland College Park who researches new ways to communicate digital information, said, “I think the key is identifying your specific target audience and addressing the needs of those people specifically.”

He added, “But there’s so much fragmentation online now, based on the specific needs of the individual, that personalization and customization is definitely the way to go.”

Eddings said there was an obvious demand for data visualization — a ballooning trend in journalism, according to Yaros.

“The media are realizing there’s a whole lot of data out there, and if you can quickly assemble it in an easy-to-use format, there’s a niche audience for that data,” Yaros said. “The bottom line is, all media are looking for ways to exploit the data out there online and present it in a useable way.”

InfoPoint’s developers said users will gain access to specific data about their industry that can guide decision-making and business planning. Each InfoPoint dataset is searchable by several terms pertaining to the information.

For example, a Realtor can sort commercial leases by ZIP code or dollar amount, while business owners can view all new incorporations in the state or, as the data sets grow, determine which county issues the most liquor licenses.

Users can begin a two-month trial period if they register before Jan. 31. After that, regular rates will apply for all new subscriptions.

An annual subscription costs $149 for non-Daily Record subscribers. Current subscribers receiving the print and online versions can add InfoPoint for $55; online-only subscribers can add it for $70.

Although Yaros called InfoPoint a logical product that appears “clean and convenient,” he questioned whether a website is the best platform for distributing the information.

“[The website] is only going to address those sitting with their laptops or in a place with WiFi access,” he said. “A mobile app that does this may be more popular for … for instance, real estate agents out in the field.”

There aren’t plans to create a mobile app yet, Eddings said, but he added that it’s a possibility if the demand emerges.

As with any new digital information product, Yaros said profitability isn’t guaranteed.

“I think an advanced user already has a lot of these sites bookmarked,” Yaros said. “If they need to get real estate records, tax records … they know where to go. Who knows if they would really go to this site and consider it a time-saver?”

Eddings said The Dolan Company plans to offer similar datasets at some of its other publications, which focus on business and/ or legal news, throughout the country but a definite timetable for that expansion has not been determined.

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