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The challenges of hyperlocal

There's a lot of buzz around hyperlocal journalism these days; it's one of those new ways of doing journalism the media industry hopes will help it adapt to the changing world and its changing news habits.

Certainly in Scandinavia, it's where many news organisations are hoping to make up for the dwindling revenues from national newspaper sales. But for hyperlocal to succeed it has to be relevant to the community it serves and perhaps draw on its resources. We heard a bit about successful hyperlocal ventures during the World Association of Newspapers' Congress in Gothenburg last week, but the current debate around the 'failure' of Washington Post's LoudounExtra.com, has thrown up a lot of interesting perspectives on what it takes to succeed with hyperlocal journalism in particular, and innovation in general.

I was particularly struck by this line from Michelle P B Ferrier, writing for Poynter's E-Media Tidbits (a hobby horse of mine, I have to admit):   

I've found that "What do you want?" is not the right question to ask your community. Instead, I ask "What do you want to do?" I also look for ways to use existing functions or build new ones to service my neighbors and new friends. And that takes a listening posture, without agenda and with humility, that many mainstream journalists and sites lack.

Also, check out Journerdism on "Innovation at newspapers won’t succeed if the organization doesn’t support it" and Pat Thornton on Innovation is a bumpy road but journalism needs it (last two links via Martin Stabe)


In the Washington D.C. area a paper focussed on the local and taking in various jurisdictions has been going for a few years. I don't believe it is sold but it is dispensed free from machines and actively distributed at Metro stations in the morning. Perhaps advertising and other revenue keeps it going. Not having looked at it for a long time I cannot comment on its content.

The hyperlocal blog Fitzroyalty (about Fitzroy in Melbourne Australia) has posted an article “the current status of hyperlocal media in Australia” that summarises the what is happening in hyperlocal media in Australia. I think hyperlocal has enormous potential here and everywhere. See http://indolentdandy.net/fitzroyalty/2008/08/08/hyperlocal-media-in-australia/

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