Street Fight’s 10 Most Popular Stories of 2011

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With 2012 nearly upon us, here’s a look back at some of the Street Fight stories that really touched a nerve (at least as far as pageviews go) during our 8 1/2-month run. Hope you all have a happy new year, and we look forward to bringing you more great content, research, and events about sustainable hyperlocal business models in 2012!

1. How to Use Flipboard to Create a Killer DIY Hyperlocal Publication in 5 Minutes
Ted Mann, July 26: For anyone who owns an iPad, it’s no surprise that Flipboard is a breakthrough. The one-year-old application allows you to instantly turn any news site, social feed, or photo stream into a slick, tablet-optimized, ad-free magazine — a pretty neat parlor trick.

2. Stretching the Definition of ‘Local’ With Patch-HuffPo
Rick Robinson, July 6: Some of the AOL hyperlocal network’s programming has turned toward the model followed by The Huffington Post and various (successful) content “farms” that draw readers in with off-topic sex appeal then deliver them off-site (thanks for the clicks and ad views).

3. Why Hyperlocal News Is Better Than Ever
Tom Grubisich, Aug. 25: There is a steadily growing number of hyperlocal sites that are innovating to find and produce quality news. This added-value news is reaching and engaging more people, thanks principally to the giant leaps by social media. The best hyperlocals are becoming the X factor in the civic renaissance that communities need to emerge stronger from their trying economic times.

4. Backfence Founder Mark Potts: Hyperlocal Takes Patience
David Hirschman, April 14: Best known in the industry for his defunct site Backfence — which pioneered a hyperlocal model that leveraged user-generated content — Potts speaks with Street Fight about which companies are closest to solving the hyperlocal conundrum, how daily deals companies are changing the equation, and whether it’s really viable to do small-scale news with professional journalists.

5. Hyperlocal Post-Mortem: Lessons Learned From InJersey
Ted Mann, July 1: When we made the decision to shutter — a network of hyperlocal sites across the Garden State that I helped build, nurture, and raise like a child – my biggest fear was that the effort would be branded a failure. In the age of Twitter, I was braced for the #epicfail hashtag. It came instead via Slate, in the form of a Jack Shafer missive.

6. Patch Pushback: Warren Webster Fires Back Amid Analysis and Criticism
Rick Robinson, Sept. 28: Patch’s president talks about why the company has lost sales execs; the network’s plans to “stand on its own financially; and a reply to AOL CEO Tim Armstrong’s suggestion that Patch could possibly, at some point, be considered for a sale. He also comments on the HuffPo-Patch dynamic, neither confirming nor denying that Patch will merge editorial operations with HuffPo.

7. Gannett Casts About in Local, Expands ‘Deal Chicken’
Rick Robinson, June 22: Why did the chicken cross the road? Apparently, deals were on the other side. Gannett, an enormous company with over 50,000 employees, is the typical corporate megalith trying to hold onto customers from the old world as they lurch headlong toward the future, simultaneously ramping up some divisions while laying off hundreds elsewhere.

8. Denver Post Unveils ‘New’ YourHub. But Is It New Enough?
Tom Grubisich, Aug. 18: Six years ago YourHub was major media’s first big foray into hyperlocal. It was the answer to newspapers desperately looking to replace shrinking print revenues with digital gold. But digital gold, like the real stuff, is not easy to find. What happened in Denver is a sobering case study about metro newspapers and hyperlocal publishing.

9. Why Hyperlocals Are Making Anonymity Obsolete
Tom Grubisich, July 28: Driving a tougher attitude toward anonymity is the new way hyperlocals and other websites are looking at their user traffic. The old benchmark was page views, and the verbal slugfests that anonymous posters started and abetted often produced traffic spikes. But more refined user analytics are stressing engagement over PVs.

10. My Green Lake’s Duncan: Hyperlocal Means Shop Local
Laura Rich, April 18: Amy Duncan, a former librarian, started Seattle hyperlocal site My Green Lake in 2009 and runs it as a for-profit business currently featuring more than twenty neighborhood-based display ads and participating in three city-wide advertising networks.