Hyperlocal Publishers Form a Trade Group

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A new trade association aims to unite independent hyperlocal publishers around common business interests and offer services that small publishers may not have access to on their own, such as health insurance.

At the Block by Block conference in Chicago this weekend, a group of 22 local online news organizations announced the formation of this entity. The parameters and potential activity of the association, as well as its name, remain largely undefined, but the group includes some of the better-known names in indie hyperlocal publishing, including The Batavian‘s Howard Owens, Baristanet‘s Debra Gallant, and Oakland Local‘s Susan Mernit.

“We want to have a group that represents our type of publishers,” said Mike Fourcher, publisher of Brown Line Media, who is the executive secretary of the group. He admitted that the group hadn’t yet defined who exactly “our type of publishers” are  — and that the group could potentially include both singular local sites and small networks; for-profit and non-profit sites; as well as publishers operating in other countries. “We know that we have some common interests and that we want to have a representative organization. And we’re working to figure out what those considered criteria are, and what exactly that organization would be. ”

Fourcher did say the group pointedly would not include major hyperlocal networks like AOL’s Patch: “They have a completely different set of needs, and we’re not interested in serving their needs.”

The group has some overlap with the Authentically Local federation of indie publishers that was formed earlier this year, but Fourcher says that this association is about providing services for publishers. He said that the association’s benefits are likely to include elements like group liability insurance, group health insurance, sales force training, revenue studies, and “all the things that representative organizations do.”

The development of this new association underscores what Street Fight has asserted since its inception — that the hyperlocal industry needs sustainable business models to survive, and that it is getting closer to finding them. While previous incarnations of hyperlocal have focused more on journalists serving their communities than on CPMs, the launch of this group seems to further indicate that publishers are thinking about their sites as revenue-generating entities.

The founding members of the trade association. Photo by Howard Owens.

Publishers in the initial group include:

Ned Berke, Sheepsheadbites.com
Brandy Tuzon Boyd, NatomasBuzz.com
Adrienne Fawcett, GazeboNews.com
Mike Fourcher, Brownlinemedia.com
Debbie Galant, Baristanet.com
Darren Hillock, WestofTheI.com
Ikaika Hussey, TheHawaiiIndependent.com
Jeremy Iggers, TCDailyPlanet.net
Ben Ilfeld, SacramentoPress.com
Krystal Knapp, PlanetPrinceton.com
Polly Kreisman, TheLoopNY.com
Emily Lowry, Magic City Post
Charlotte Anne Lucas, NowcastSA.org
La Risa Lynch, NeighborhoodScribe.com
Susan Mernit, OaklandLocal.com
Howard Owens, TheBatavian.com
Jesus Sanchez, TheEastSiderLA.com
Patrick Sand, WestSeattleBlog.com
Amy Senk, CoronadelmarToday.com
Dylan Smith, TucsonSentinel.com
John T. Ward RedBankGreen.com
Teresa Whippel, MyEdmondsNews.com


Top independent hyperlocal publishers will be sharing their business strategies and insights at the Street Fight Summit on October 25-26 in New York. Buy your ticket today!