WaPo’s Suburban Newsrooms: Let the Walls Come Tumbling Down

The shuttering of the Washington Post’s suburban newsrooms shouldn’t be a sad moment at all. It should be an occasion for the Post to let to its staff and the world know that not only is it not retrenching but it is expanding its commitment to the greater Washington community…

Ex-NYC Deputy Mayor: Hyperlocals Should Help Citizens ‘March on City Hall’

Journalism and community are rapidly converging in the hyperlocal space. But the big missing piece is meaningful participation by local government. Mayors, city and town managers and other local public officials may have Twitter accounts or Facebook pages, but too often they’re used for carefully managed image messages–not for joining citizens in serious problem solving. Stephen […]

Why Hyperlocal News Is Better Than Ever

Add everything up, and you have a steadily growing number of sites that are innovating to find and produce quality news covering a myriad of topics.  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…

Denver Post Unveils ‘New’ YourHub. But Is It New Enough?

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.

How SeeClickFix Built Revenue Streams From Potholes

SeeClickFix started humbly — from potholes in New Haven, Conn. But it grew quickly as it mobilized citizens in thousands of communities around the U.S. to flag irritating and sometimes serious problems in their neighborhoods. But for all its social purpose, SeeClickFix is a for-profit company. Co-founder Ben Berkowitz talks about how SeeClickFix developed revenue from multiple sources…

Navigating the ‘New Ethics of Local Journalism’: Dangerous Curves Ahead

Journalistic ethics is ordinarily a head-nodding, Sunday-sermon kind of subject. Unless a community website names a teenager who died of a drug overdose in what was a string of Oxycontin fatalities among local youths…or publishes a “news” story about a business that’s a regular advertiser or is being avidly sought….or takes sides on a divisive […]

Why Hyperlocals Are Making Anonymity Obsolete

I don’t ordinarily read anonymous comments, but “patriotmommy” stopped my browsing eyes recently on Patch’s Reston, Va., site. I was reading an upbeat story about graduation at the high school where my two daughters were educated. The article noted that South Lakes High produced a “record number” of International Baccalaureate candidates this year. At the […]

Hyperlocal Scoreboard: Two Close Watchers Total It Up

The Poynter Institute’s Mallary Jean Tenore and Rick Edmonds are must-reads in the digital media world. Their pieces on hyperlocal, while not numerous, have been extensively linked, tweeted and commented on. Tenore came of age in the digital era, while Edmonds entered his first newsroom when the IBM Selectric typewriter was still the standard…

The Alternative Press: A Successful Hyperlocal in the Garden State

The story of why InJersey went out has been told in so many conflicting ways it could be called “Garden State Rashomon.” I’d like to tell the story of another New Jersey hyperlocal, The Alternative Press, that is less maddening, and more optimistic. Would-be hyperlocal publishers and editors, give TAP founder and CEO Mike Shapiro five minutes of your time.

‘Social Journalism’: News You Can Take to the Bottom Line

The LJ World in Lawrence, Kan., has been a fount of innovation in digital journalism — especially in how to build and foster more and deeper community connections. Jane Stevens, the site’s director of media strategies, is herself a nonstop innovator. In 2010, she and her team launched LJ World’s WellCommons, a highly interactive site where “community and journalism work together to create a healthier Lawrence and Douglas County”…

The ‘Wishes and Dreams’ of Hyperlocal News Consumers

The data explosion offers plentiful opportunities to develop new news. But to blend that data into a compelling content cocktail, hyperlocals have to be continually innovative, and that’s not happening. Social networking is a big part of the new news, but it is nowhere near connecting to the user’s meaningful preferences…

Taking ‘Broccoli Journalism’ Hyperlocal

Mediameister Jeff Jarvis is the pluperfect phrasemaker. “There’s no why there,” he memorably summed up the Mark Zuckerberg-Facebook biopic The Social Network. But I wish his jibe about “broccoli journalism” didn’t prove so hardy. Jarvis coined the phrase in 2009 – in an attack on a report calling for federal subsidies to prop up the cost of reporting “serious” news stories…

Social Purpose Hyperlocals: Go for Gumption

Grand Rapids, Mich., was decreed to be “dying” in January. The report, by Mainstreet.com, turned out to be greatly exaggerated. But exactly how healthy is the “Office Furniture Capital of the World,” the second largest city in a state that has been reeling economically since before the great recession? To find out, I went to The Rapidian, which bills itself as “a hyperlocal news source powered by the people of Grand Rapids.”

The F.C.C. Solution for Community News is So Last Century

The new and much-quoted F.C.C. report on “Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a BroadBand Age” is massive and well written, and its authors did their due diligence by holding workshops whose testimony from an array of media experts fills 711 pages. But the report’s back-to-the-future prescription for community news in the digital era is a big disappointment.

The report’s most fraught conclusion, and the one getting the most published attention:

“…in many communities, we now face a shortage of local, professional, accountability reporting. This is likely to lead to the kinds of problems that are, not surprisingly, associated with a lack of accountability—more government waste, more local corruption, less effective schools, and other serious community problems. The independent watchdog function that the Founding Fathers envisioned for journalism—going so far as to call it crucial to a healthy democracy—is in some cases at risk at the local level.”


Why Hyperlocals Are Missing Out on Engagement

“Engagement,” just about everyone agrees, is a must, especially for news websites, most especially hyperlocals. But engagement metrics for news – even allowing for sometimes wildly conflicting numbers produced from different methodologies – are mostly grim. The average Facebook user spends a half hour-plus on that paragon of digital engagement. News sites get minutes that can be counted on one hand. Taking into account murky Web analytics, only a fraction of that time – about three minutes for most hyperlocal news sites, according to Alexa – represents engagement where the site has captured the user’s undivided attention…