Time recently posted a good piece on the new focus on hyperlocal sites under the headline “Are Hyperlocals Replacing Traditional Newspapers?”
As I noted in previous posts, a second wave of hyperlocal sites is sprouting up across the country. The first wave began before the economic collapse of news industry, most dying off due to financial concerns. But this year has seen a new commitment in hyperlocals and the revenue potential they hold.
Interesting to note that the hyperlocal sites the Time article highlighted are either independent ventures or are being bankrolled by major companies such as AOL and MSNBC. Who seems to be missing in the new push? Beyond the Tribune Company’s Triblocal, I’m hard pressed to find a mid-to-major newspaper heavily involved in hyperlocal.
Sad but true. It would seem to be a natural for local newspapers to either create a hyperlocal product or reinvent themselves into a hyperlocal. Instead, we’re seeing outside companies recognize the potential in readership and revenues and are moving in to an area that newspapers need to hold firm, lest they lose their very core of survival.
My gut feeling as to why newspapers are again late to the party is that publishers still believe good local journalism means having total control over its content. They are still wary about allowing readers to post their own stories and information. However, as Everyblock founder Adrian Holovaty notes in the Time article:. “I think good journalism can also be about organizing information in intelligent ways and giving people tools that let them help each other.”
You can still have good journalism and community involvement in a hyperlocal product. In fact, it is probably the most efficient allocation of your resources and those of the community in providing a solid site for local news and information. But as outside interest make their way into your territory and gain credibility, it’ll be tougher to sell a local site just on your good name.
As time goes on, traditional newspapers may lose the one ground they’ve held during the downtime.
And Time’s headline would then be very prophetic.