Philly.com, the digital face for the Philadelphia Media Network’s traditional news subsidies, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News, launched a small hyperlocal site yesterday. Taking on the brand of a once-successful community newsletter axed years ago by the Inquirer, Neighbors will begin by providing news coverage exclusively for Philadelphia’s Main Line — the city’s oldest, and arguably most advertising-friendly, suburb.
With Neighbors, Philly.com joins an established contingent of hyperlocal sites covering the area, including Patch and the Main Line Times, a subsidiary of the Journal Register’s month-old online division Digital First Media.
Project Lead Daniel Victor says the competitive landscape was part of Philly.com’s decision to launch in the Main Line: “As far as readership, I really believe that there is plenty of room for what we are doing. The example we are trying to set here is that [hyperlocal sites] can work alongside one another and do different things – a rising tide can raise all boats.”
Victor says the opportunity for Neighbors is to bring Inquirer-grade reporting to a community level. “We don’t want to do four to five small stories a day,” Victor tells Street Fight. “Instead, we are having our reporters work on one big story which will be broken down into five or six smaller pieces — in a sense, reconstructing the story brick by brick.”
The project’s two part-time writers will use social media to crowdsource information about a subject as they work through a lead. “I come from a reporting background myself and I see crowd-sourcing as reporting tool not necessarily a way to aggregate opinion,” says Victor. “Too often, sites use crowdsourcing to tack on opinions after the story is completed. With community news, contributors quite often hold the key information but reporters just do not take the time to ask.”
The site’s sticking point will inevitably be its ability to make Philly.com’s regional resources relevant on a community-level. Victor says that while Neighbors will benefit from the traffic generated by Philly.com’s 1.8 million unique monthly visitors, the main opportunity is in leveraging Philly.com’s editorial assets. “We have the ability to draw on anything written about the Main Line in both the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News and bring this content into one location. I think that’s a pretty powerful proposition.”