Hyper-local: business models from history
When many newspapers began, what they had that no one else had was a printing press. In fact printing newspapers was often just one of the many different printed products that they produced while they searched for a viable business model. What they had were skills in printing, not journalism. Many contemporary hyper-local publishers are hemming themselves in by thinking they are solely in the news business. In the widest possible sense they are in the digital publishing business with expertise in technology, project management, content production and distribution, communications, design, etc, etc. .
So what does this mean to hyper-local publishers? Well don’t count on Ad revenue alone, look at other digital services that your community needs; web site production, e-commerce, web hosting, content management, intranet development, viral marketing, social media news releases, etc, etc and aim to be the centre of digital publishing in your neck of the woods and you just might build enough decent revenue streams as a digital publisher to support a business that produces news as well.
Many years ago I worked in new media in the conventional newspaper industry and we found that we generated more revenue from designing and building websites, than we did from Ad revenue. However we concentrated on news instead of being open minded about which of these new revenue streams delivered the goods; unlike our old fashioned entrepreneurial printer.