Category Archives: Online news

J-lab releases study into hyper-local news success

Jan Schaffer over at J-lab has some really important insights into the real challenges of setting up and running hyper local news operations. 

They have just released, “New Voices: What Works.” an indepth study of 46 news start-ups they have funded.  Jan says that the report focuses on 10 key takeaways. They include:

  • Engagement, not just content, is key: Robust and frequent content begets more content, but it’s the engagement with users that make sites successful.
  • Sweat equity counts for a lot: Projects built on the grit and passion of the founders have created the most promising models for sustainability.
  • Community news sites are not a business yet. Income from grants, ads, events and other things falls short, in most cases, of paying staff salaries and operating expenses.
  • Demand for start-up funding is high. We had 1,433 applicants for the 55 projects that were funded.

It sounds fascinating stuff and would encourage everyone to have a look and feed back to them.  I am sure they would appreciate it.


Regional papers bounce back through hyperlocal news

There is a very interesting article in todays Independent by Ian Burrel that outlines the recovery in the regional press in Britain over recent months.

Avertising revenues are up and new titles are being published.  It is claimed that this is in no part due to a strong emphasis on local and hyperlocal news and surprise, surprise growing digital revenues!!

All I can say is well done to everyone involved, lets hope there is more to come.

NY Times to launch East Village Hyperlocal site

Lostremote reports that the NY Times is to launch another in its series of hyperlcoal sites, this time in the East Village on the 13th of September.

Interestingly this will include access to a “virtual assignment desk” providing an “editorial work flow system” that any registered user of the NY Times can access.  This sounds a really interesting development and like Lostremote I look forward to seeing it in action.

Fron shovelware to scaperware

Scraperwiki are holding another event for info hackers, journalists and other interested parties in how to successfully build apps to find, collect and interpret freely available information on the web.  

It’s on Friday October 15th 2010 from 9.30 am to 7.30 pm at the MadLab, 36-40 Edge Street, M4 1HN Manchester and comes on the back of similar events in Birmingham and Liverpool.  Anyone interested in hyperlocal journalism could do worse than take the opportunity to familiarise themselves with these tools and techniques.

Hyperlocal is not everything local (still)

Cory Bergman at Lostremote raises the perennial question as to “why is it that so many journalists keep confusing “hyperlocal” with local?” A theme that has been raised on hyperlcoalworld before.

Equally he notes the odd position of big media companies who seem to have a very vague grasp of physical geography and that “It seems that any site that’s not run by a major media company that covers local news is suddenly hyperlocal — MinnPost covers a state, Voice of San Diego covers a city and Loudoun Extra covered a county are frequently mislabeled.”

He also makes the perfectly sensible point that, “Neighborhood news sites are hyperlocal because they offer a new layer of granular coverage that isn’t available on local news sites:” or for that matter resourceable or manageable in a conventional media structure.  But are good news to nervous shareholders.

Hyperlocal Leeds, Hyperlocal Roundhay.

roundhayThe Yorkshire Evening Post has launched twenty new hyperlocal news sites to cover Leeds and the surrounding areas.  They claim to be aiming to launch more in the near future.

They look pretty good and the Roundhay one (left) seemed to have plenty relevant news.  I hope that they get the grassroots involvement that they are looking for.

News is what the editor sees on the way to work…

Years ago when I started work in the new media department of a local newspaper, I spotted this saying somewhere, “news is what the editor sees on the way to work””.  

I thought this was a silly throw away remark, but the more I worked with the editor the more I realised that his personal news agenda was almost inescapable and ‘what  he saw on the way to work’ was actually really important.  In fact the more that all the journalists saw about the area that they knew the more informed the news would be.

Unfortunately journalists have reduced greatly in number, rarely live in the areas that they cover and almost never come from these neighbourhoods.  This is the niche that good hyperlocal can really fill.

Hyperlocal, the Guardian and local data

There is an excellent postojb on the Online Journalism Blog from Paul Bradshaw about the UK Guardians plans for local/regional information services. 

If things weren’t bad enough for the regional press in Britain the idea that a national title wants a piece of their action is very unwelcome news.  However I agree with Paul entirely and see this as an absolutely natural move by the Guardian based on its developing expertise in data management and distribution.  I also think that his point about them becoming a hyperlocal PA is also well made and fits into one of my expectations about the need for hyperlcoal publishers to provide contextual ‘stuff’ in support of the  ‘hyperlocal stuff’ – at a cost close to zero. 

It also raises the very interesting point that the regional press, by and large, are and have been institutions that dealt in news first and information second.  The idea that they can suddenly change course and create value from information collection, aggregation, analysis, manipulable and dissemination is actually very unlikely, but is central to the way the web works..

Hyperlocal News 18.08.09

The Washington Post is closing its only hyperlocal site LoudonExtra, two years after the site launched. WaPo Closing Hyperlocal Site LoudounExtra

The company that runs, a joint venture between Microsoft Corp. and General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal, said it will buy the Chicago-based news service EveryBlock. MSNBC Acquires ‘Hyper-Local’
Fisher Communications, Inc. today announced that it has launched a network of 43 hyperlocal neighborhood Web sites in the Seattle market.
Fisher Communications Launches 43 Hyperlocal Seattle Neighborhood …

Hyperlocal news – its Pan-local really!

For anyone interested in understanding how a hyperlocal news site works should check out the interview by Matthew Sollars of CUNY of Mike Orren from Pegasus News the local news serice for Dallas-Fort Worth area.

What is interesting here is Mike’s concept of ‘pan-local’ coverge, which I think is a very sensible perspective. In essence its the idea that while it is vital to have a hyper-local core to your service you also need a wider context of news to complement this and demonstrate how these relate to each other. Mike also talks about the logistic difficulties of doing such a thing. 

Perhaps it illustrates another example where new kinds of partnerships and alliances may need to be developed if hyperlocal is really going to work.