There are hundreds of independent community news sites in the U.S. — thousands if you count blogs — but only 131 of them meet the standards of “Michele’s List.” The list was assembled and is periodically updated by journalist/researcher/consultant Michele McLellan, who was the principal founder of Block by Block, a network that inspired (and goaded) “indie” community editors and publishers to focus, and stay focused, on achieving sustainability in the brave new world of digital journalism. McLellan, who still compiles her “list,” talked with Street Fight recently about what her new survey revealed….
Hyperlocal news sites are struggling to earn money. In part, that’s because they have imposed the artificial burden of a full church-state separation (ads / news) like the New York Times and other top-flight pubs. In an ideal world, this separation works. But in small town papers or small papers covering hyperlocal areas, church and state will never be separate – and never have been.
“People are beginning to figure out that the display advertising model is a bad carryover from mass media,” says Gordon Borrell. “What does that mean for the future of hyperlocal websites? I think there’s value in them, but I honestly don’t think there’s enough value to sustain the business model in any single market beyond being a very small niche.”