Hyperlocal Publishers Form a Trade Group

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!

  1. October 3, 2011

    Incredibly excited to see a trade group like this, these people have a ton of initiative, leadership and drive to be able to come together and agree on something like this. Congratulations on creating news and making history! Full disclosure, we are in Oakland and love what Susan is doing so we are always willing to shout out for her.

  2. October 3, 2011

    Exciting development. Go get em! Looking forward to possibly signing on as things take shape.

  3. Quinn Conklin
    October 3, 2011

    How do they see the needs of Patch being different from other hyper local publishers. True at the corporate top end side of things there may be differences but for the patch  editors on the street I think there are a lot of the same needs. 

    1. October 3, 2011

      This is about publishers running their own businesses banding together for shared causes. Patch’s employees would not benefit from, for example, a health insurance program and similar shared or cooperative assets.

    2. October 3, 2011

      Also the narrative about local news is often controlled by Patch and other large entities, not through any malicious behavior, but simply because they are large and employ full time PR firms or departments.

  4. October 3, 2011

    Very good to see this article, both because I am excited for what it means for local journalism and because I am co-founder of The Sacramento Press.

    However you have the incorrect web address for The Hawaii Independent. Just met Ikaika, love him and his site, and it’s worth looking at. In order to do that you need to know where to find it and what it’s called. It’s called *The* Hawaii Independent and can be found here:


    1. October 3, 2011

      Thanks Geoff. Updated!

  5. Cliffviewpilot
    October 3, 2011

    “some of the better known names”? Among whom? I have an extremely successful site.  It’s local and local. I have NO news partners. I’m beholden to no one but my audience. They, like my advertisers, are loyal. We kick the local daily’s tail every day. You are quite lathered up over this, I see.

  6. Debbie Galant
    October 3, 2011

    Proud to be part of this effort as a second-generation indie journalist entrepreneur.

  7. October 4, 2011

    This is exciting news! I’m the founder of my town’s first hyperlocal site, The Battle Ground Buzz. It would be great to participate in a reasonably priced health insurance plan for hyperlocal publishers. I will keep an eye on how this progresses.

  8. October 5, 2011

    We must join this group! ~ Matt with TownSquareBuzz.com

  9. February 12, 2012

    Trade groups can really work if they are well received among the local population. My only other comment would be to make sure that the work required to make them successful is equally shared. My experience to date has been that not everyone does their fair share of work.

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Street Fight Daily: 10.03.11