Your Guide to Hyper-Local News
by Mark Glaser
What Is It?
Hyper-local news is the information relevant to small communities or neighborhoods that has been overlooked by traditional news outlets. Thanks to cheap self-publishing and communication online, independent hyper-local news sites have sprung up to serve these communities, while traditional media has tried their own initiatives to cover what they've missed. In some cases, hyper-local sites let anyone submit stories, photos or videos of the community, with varying degrees of moderation and filtering. Pioneers such as Northwest Voice in Bakersfield, Calif., and YourHub, which started in Denver, actually reverse publish select material from their websites in print publications. Both of them are run by mainstream newspaper publishers.
The motivation for starting independent hyper-local sites is often to tell the previously untold stories of communities, while also bringing like-minded people together online. Mainstream news outlets that have created hyper-local sites are trying to engage their readers, while also creating a place for smaller, niche advertisers who want to reach a highly geographically targeted audience.
The business models for hyper-local news sites are still evolving, and some independent sites are run as labors of love by their publishers and communities. Venture-funded startups Backfence and Bayosphere tried and failed to make a business out of creating a series of hyper-local sites, while Pegasus News was recently bought by Fisher Communications.
Methods for Collecting Hyper-Local News
In the past few years, people have used a variety of methods to capture hyper-local news, from assigning professional journalists to hyper-local beats to collecting stories from interested citizens, to a combination of the two. In terms of presentation, the storytelling format has included everything from articles and videos to blogs, wikis, and annotated maps. The following is a list of some of the ways that traditional and independent media have gathered hyper-local news.
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