Articles about "Hyperlocal"


Local reporting is suffering from a ‘gradual erosion’

The Washington Post | Association of Alternative Newsmedia
Local reporting is suffering from a "gradual erosion," Paul Farhi writes in a piece bouncing off Pew's new State of the News Media report. The economics of digital publishing are especially brutal to local news, Farhi writes:
In drawing readers and viewers from a relatively small pond, local news outlets struggle to attract enough traffic to generate ad dollars sufficient to support the cost of gathering the news in the first place. Conversely, sites that report and comment on national and international events draw from a worldwide audience, making it relatively easier to aggregate a large audience and the ad dollars that come with it.
Publishers that cover national and international news account for 60 percent of new jobs in digital publishing, Farhi writes, while newspapers continue to cut jobs, usually from their local staffs. Small operations and nonprofits can fill the gap -- Scott Brodbeck's Local News Now in the Washington, D.C., area, employs three journalists and sales director and is profitable -- but many are "financially precarious." And, of course, there's the Patch saga.

But you don't have to go back to Watergate, or even 2012, to find examples of local stories piercing the veil that separates them from national news. The Bergen Record pushed "Bridgegate" into the lights after a traffic reporter, John Cichowski, and a reporter who covers the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Shawn Boburg, connected the dots on an epic traffic jam in Fort Lee, N.J. Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia was touted as a possible 2016 presidential candidate (and reportedly made Mitt Romney's shortlist for veep) before Washington Post reporters unreeled the story of his ties to a wealthy donor. And West Virginia reporters rode point on the story of a chemical spill that affected 300,000 people's drinking water.

Unfortunately, local news lacks the cachet of long-form or investigative journalism, both of which successful digital operations like BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post have been able to subsidize as part of their overall bundles. The latter has "always been high-cost content that produced a very low — if any — return in increased circulation and advertising revenue," Jack Shafer wrote in February in a column about the "new Medicis" funding journalism as a public good -- Pierre Omidyar, Farhi's boss Jeff Bezos, Neil Barsky of the Marshall Project (which just announced the hire of The Guardian's Gabriel Dance). (more...)
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Copy-spaced image of a young man drinking morning coffee and reading the newspaper at home (Depositphotos)

Why is local news innovation struggling financially while national thrives?

On the national level, we’ve seen an exciting burst of investment and innovation in digital news.

The New York Times crowed that “Web News Is Thriving,” the evidence being that Ezra Klein, the wonk’s wonk, is starting an explanatory journalism … Read more

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In EveryBlock’s legacy, the promise and limits of hyperlocal success

Hyperlocal news and community discussion site EveryBlock closed Thursday, as NBC News announced it struggled to become profitable and was not a "strategic fit."

The closing was a surprise to everyone outside the company, and many people immediately began discussing the journalism and technology legacy of EveryBlock and what, if anything, might succeed in its wake.

Dan Sinker, head of the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project, says "we’re all living in Everyblock’s world now":
The impact of Everyblock goes far beyond the traffic to the site itself. Everyblock is one of those ideas that bent the world in a new way when it came around. One of those ideas that felt both so obvious and so ingenious simultaneously, that it looked *easy* when it was anything but. Back when it launched in 2008, the idea of arcane civic data being of use to regular citizens didn’t really exist. The idea of geolocation-based information gathering didn’t really exist. The idea of (shudder) “hyperlocal” information at the street-level didn’t really exist. And yet today, five years later, these ideas are commonplace thanks in large part to Everyblock proving that they were possible and vital.
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The hard truths of hyperlocal journalism reveal themselves in Journatic trouble

It’s become clear that Journatic has some problems: Using incorrect or fictional bylines, plus plagiarism and fabrication of news.

But what if it didn’t?

Could Journatic’s model of cost-efficient outsourced journalism offer a viable future for hyperlocal news? If … Read more

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How hyperlocal sites handle ‘micro-news’ in their communities

We’ve become familiar with the way Journatic — and the news organizations that outsource to it — are gathering and publishing local “micro-news” like school lunch menus, death notices, high school sports scores and real estate transactions. But we wondered: … Read more

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Chicago Tribune discovers plagiarism, suspends work with Journatic

Vouchification | Chicago Tribune | Williamsburg Yorktown Daily | Illinois Times | Gazebo News
One of Journatic's editorial leaders, Mike Fourcher, announced Saturday morning that he has resigned from the outsourcing company because he and the company's founders "fundamentally disagree about ethical and management issues as they relate to a successful news business." Journatic said late Saturday that it had planned to fire Fourcher before he resigned.

In a phone interview, Fourcher said, "I'm upset because I believe what Journatic was originally conceived to do was a good idea. It went off track." Fourcher, who was with the company just 10 weeks, said "what we’re seeing is the result of a misguided set of priorities. Writers and editors are implicitly discouraged from doing high quality work for the sake of efficiency and making more money. ... The only metrics that exist are to punish people for failure or to encourage them to fear embarrassment."

That embarrassment arrived, for one particular writer and the company, Friday evening in a letter to readers from Chicago Tribune President Vince Casanova. The paper announced it would suspend its relationship with Journatic, the company it invested in and hired to take over its TribLocal websites after laying off about 20 journalists. The note reads:
We made the decision after it came to light Friday that a sports story published in this week’s Deerfield TribLocal contained elements that were plagiarized and fabricated. ... (more...)
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Hyperlocal news sites mature as founders of Baristanet, Dallas South News move on

In as many months, two pioneers of hyper-local news websites have decided to leave those sites for jobs in the public sector. Debbie Galant, who launched Baristanet.com eight years ago, announced earlier this week that she’s accepted a job at Read more

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Departure of Baristanet founder doesn’t portend changes, says editor

With founder Debbie Galant taking a new job at Montclair State University, where she'll join "an ambitious effort to nurture digital and hyperlocal journalism in New Jersey," Baristanet co-owner Liz George now has a busier summer ahead of her.

But George said she doesn't expect major changes in the hyperlocal site's coverage or approach.

"We have such a mix of voices, I don't think there's going to be a dramatic change," she said in a phone interview. "We have a sensibility that we've worked on for eight years, throughout the site."

In the past several months, George said she and Galant spent most of their time managing the business and handling editorial issues, with some writing interspersed. She said it wasn't a full-time job for either of them, though of course it will be harder with Galant gone and contributors away on summer vacations. (more...)
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Schachter: ‘Hyperlocal is not what the New York Times’ business is about’

Capital New York | Nieman Journalism Lab
Capital New York's Joe Pompeo reports that The New York Times will end "The Local," its two hyperlocal collaborations with New York University and CUNY, and the schools will take over the two sites.

The Times started The Local, Pompeo writes, "at a time when 'hyperlocal' was becoming the industry buzzword of the moment. This was back in March 2009, when AOL's Patch was still in its infancy and there seemed to be lots of promise for a new breed of community news sites that would scale by selling targeted local online advertising, an end that has proven more difficult to achieve in practice."

Pompeo's take on what happened:
The sites ceased to be a priority for a news organization with no shortage of priorities, including a growing list of new web initiatives that have been rolling out as readers continue to adapt to the paid digital model implemented by the Times last year.
Jim Schachter, the Times associate managing editor who oversaw The Local and other partnerships, told me in a phone interview that Pompeo's assessment was accurate: (more...)
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The rise and fall of Windy Citizen

Windy Citizen
Brad Flora is closing down Windy Citizen for a couple of reasons, "but the main one is that for some time now it has cost more to keep up than it's been generating revenue-wise," Flora writes in a note to readers. Also, he notes, "the internet is a lot different today than it was just over 4 years ago. ...Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Everyblock, these sites do a great job of keeping people up to date on what's happening in the communities they care about."

Windy Citizen was something of a darling when it launched; Steve Johnson wrote a mostly positive review of the site after it changed its name from Chicago Methods Reporter. Tim McGuire of Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication raved about Flora:
To my old media, hidebound mind he will make some savvy investor big-time money. I was blown away by his creativity, his practicality and his passion. He knows story-telling, he knows local news and he fits in no newspaper box of which I’m aware.
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