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Are Hyperlocal News Sites Replacing Newspapers?

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Are Hyperlocal News Sites Replacing Newspapers?

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  • #83060
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    Are Hyperlocal News Sites Replacing Newspapers?

    By GARY MOSKOWITZ Wednesday, Aug. 04, 2010

    All politics may be local, but apparently not enough journalism is. As newspapers keep cutting back on staff and printing skimpier editions, journalists, entrepreneurs and ordinary citizens have responded by creating websites to cover the local news they feel is going underreported.

    Hyperlocal has become a buzzword as familiar to news junkies as eat local is to foodies. The idea is to get residents involved in the reporting not just by sending in tips but by writing content about important local issues such as school boards and transportation. In professional newsrooms, “we spend too much time on craft and not enough time on community,” says Michele McLellan, a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri who spent the past year studying nearly 70 of the best hyperlocal sites. “Many of the new sites, even if they don’t have the most polished reports, are flipping that: community first.”

    READ MORE: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2005729,00.html

    #396281

    This site has been most integral in helping me understand this city. My four years away at Ohio U left me out of touch but I was able to look through CU’s archives and catch up to speed. The newspapers are just no longer engaging.

    #396282

    berdawn
    Member
    #396283

    JonMyers
    Participant

    Walker, I don’t know if replace is the right word, but hyperlocal sites are definitely impacting the flow and consumption of local news and information.

    Especially with regards to how news is captured and broken. Also impacted is how people interact with and socialize around news digitally.

    The old media guards of cities like traditional newspapers and television reporting are used to being at the center of the conversation and they’re used to controlling the conversation.

    Now nobody is in the center of the conversation and nobody controls it.

    Hyperlocal sites thrive in that reality, which is why they’re getting traction. It’s a shift in production and consumption points that favors the upstarts.

    #396284

    Jim Lauwers
    Participant

    I set up a news blog about my apartment building and put up flyers all over the building advertising it, but to be totally honest with you it was mainly just part of an attempt to get this cute Asian girl in the building to date me. Almost all of the stories are about how big my muscles are, the length of my tongue, what great furniture I have, that kind of stuff.

    So far though she hasn’t visited the site even once. (I’ve set up a linux server that just captures and decrypts the traffic from her wireless network.) Also, I think she has a boyfriend? She seems to look at his facebook page a lot…

    ugh this whole “local news site” thing is worthless, I’m going to go get drunk. I give this time article zero stars >:(

    #396285
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    JonMyers wrote >>
    Walker, I don’t know if replace is the right word, but hyperlocal sites are definitely impacting the flow and consumption of local news and information.

    Agreed. I think the “replace” word was chosen as an attention-grabber more than anything.

    #396286

    Roland
    Participant

    I continue to get all of my strip club advertisements through the local papers, and TOP’s website.

    #396287

    myliftkk
    Participant

    Walker wrote >>

    JonMyers wrote >>
    Walker, I don’t know if replace is the right word, but hyperlocal sites are definitely impacting the flow and consumption of local news and information.

    Agreed. I think the “replace” word was chosen as an attention-grabber more than anything.

    Why doesn’t “replace” fit the bill, though displace is slightly more accurate. Sure, it’s a one for many, displacement policy, as opposed to one for one.

    If anything, old media shows that if they have nothing else of interest to write about, they still have time to write their own obituary, over and over and over.

    #396288

    GW_Justice
    Participant

    The problem with hyperlocal news sites is that they don’t work for small communities. By work, I mean they provide an income for the owners that is greater than minimum wage, given the work they require.

    CU covers the central city area, and some of the near suburbs. I’m guessing 500K people in this area. Some stories from the outer burbs, but there is a lot going on out there that just can’t be covered, there is not enough time in the day to do that.

    I don’t know what Walker makes from CU, but it is probably doesn’t compared to even the smallest suburban newspaper. There are young people who do look online for news at a local level, but it is just not done by the majority. Without the hits, you can’t make money.

    “Hyperlocal sites thrive in that reality, which is why they’re getting traction. It’s a shift in production and consumption points that favors the upstarts.” Great talk, and possibly true in the future, but you can’t feed your family on future profits.

    #396289

    JonMyers
    Participant

    Great point GW, and I agree that hyper local sites are really hard to monetize using the same model as the old guard. In terms of the monetization approach it’s usually just display ads.

    Display ads don’t work really well. If the average click through rate for display ads on hyper local sites were 1% I’d be shocked. If the ads were sold on a CPM (cost per thousand page views) basis on hyper local sites they’d make even less.

    All that said, there are many other opportunities to monetize a hyper local site.

    Think of all the commercial intent expressed on CU, people in a state of mind of making a purchasing decision. “Where do I buy a bike?” “What’s the best restaurant in the Short North?”.

    There are many ways I can think of for a hyper local site, with hyper local market knowledge to monetize their site because most people would rather trust a local authority and community.

    It starts with building areas of the site around consumption, lining up the partners, and tools, and finally giving people reasons, deadlines and benefits to act on their decision based on information they received on the hyper local site.

    #396290

    AMEEKER
    Participant

    There are many ways I can think of for a hyper local site, with hyper local market knowledge to monetize their site because most people would rather trust a local authority and community.

    It starts with building areas of the site around consumption, lining up the partners, and tools, and finally giving people reasons, deadlines and benefits to act on their decision based on information they received on the hyper local site.

    Couldn’t agree more. We started a hyperlocal site for the Fifth by Northwest area (www.5xnw.com) and are only starting to do anything with it, really. There’s a lot more to it than simply throwing up a site and thinking, “Oh, we’ll report the news.” We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what we could share about this little tiny piece of Columbus, but I know that eventually when we’re ready, we will be able to monetize it…

    Example: We were driving down the road week before last and saw the Leslie’s Creperie food cart. Jumped out, made a quick video, posted it to the site, Twitter, Facebook and CU. Their video had over 133 views in one week, and in that same time they were mentioned in Columbus Alive.

    Eventually, a business will pay for that sort of “sponsored review.” There is a well-trafficked second-hand clothing store in 5xNW. I can easily see doing a series on “What Not To Wear,” or “How to Get the Look” with them… that is somehow monetized by way of referral. Or how about the Northstar Animal Clinic – we have the ability to easily set up a unique 800 number for a business so that anyone who calls that number (which goes directly to their own phone number), creates a lead commission for us. How about the Ohio Craft Museum creating a special sale for our readers around the holidays where a % goes to us as a commission? Classifieds, business directories… those types of things are options, too.

    Having said all of that…All of those feel like sleezy ways out if we’re not also producing real content that our people want to read! haha… A lot more work than it sounds when you’re working and have a family and… and… and… you get the picture!

    #396291

    cc
    Member

    This is a very interesting and growing area. I really think that content is still king. Small nieghborhood papers were usurped long ago by mass communication, it is interesting that due to the low cost and ease of entry of the internet that it is returning to that. I am not sure that people would stay interested if the main focus of the site was regulated to reporting akin to my grandfather listening to a police radio scanner. I think a necessary evolutionary step is that hyperlocal ‘media personalities’ will arise with wit and local savvy.

    I also agree with GW and see most of these hyperlocal blogs as more a labor of love than of money.

    #396292
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    GW_Justice wrote >> I don’t know what Walker makes from CU, but it is probably doesn’t compared to even the smallest suburban newspaper. There are young people who do look online for news at a local level, but it is just not done by the majority. Without the hits, you can’t make money.

    I don’t think our business model compares at all to any form of print media, as there are huge production costs in print while our overhead is pretty small. So I agree that we probably don’t bring in as much as a suburban paper, but we don’t have the same costs as them either. But yeah… we do ok for ourselves, but I can’t say it was totally easy to get to where we are today.

    Another good example of a hyperlocal/hyperfocus online news site is Med City News in Cleveland, founded by a former Plain Dealer Staffer:

    About Us

    #396293

    GCrites80s
    Participant

    This might be getting a little off-topic, but one reason I prefer CU and UrabnOhio over our local TV news is that the content on these sites go beyond murders, driving and puppies. Newspapers do have a much wider mix than that, but most hyperlocal sites make their agendas pretty clear up front. That is, if they do have an agenda at all besides local boosterism.

    #396294

    JonMyers
    Participant

    I love CU, I love hanging out on CU and see it as a community, but I don’t consider it a hyper-local news site. I consider CU and many sites like it aggregators of local news or a hyper-local news aggregation community.

    It’s mostly about – what do you think of the news?

    While there are original local stories on CU, these stories are mostly not time sensitive and in sync with a typical breaking news cycle.

    Reporting on or breaking local news is what would make it a hyper-local news site.

    Obviously, that begs the question – “what is news?”.

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