By Clare Baker | September 30th, 2009
Amid declining newspaper circulations and the financial woes of once seemingly-untouchable media giants, a super-focused type of journalism known as hyperlocal has emerged as a bright spot in the industry’s cloudy future. While the movement has been around for nearly a decade, the continuing evaporation of small town newspapers and the squeezing of newsrooms big and small has created a void for readers and advertisers in the local market, which has increased focus in recent years on the importance and perhaps necessity of a hyperlocal presence. Case in point: this past year saw several well-established media companies as well as start-ups dip their toes (or dive head first, in some cases) into the hyperlocal pool.
An obvious argument for the creation of hyperlocal sites is to provide information for those in the community that have lost the town/village-specific news that was once provided by a now-defunct city or regional paper. On the business side of things, hyperlocal creates ad space for those mom and pop stores and local businesses that also lost an advertising outlet with the folding of the local paper. But is the revenue there to support a hyperlocal presence? Jeff Jarvis, journalist and hyperlocal champion, thinks so. (Full-disclosure: Jarvis is on the Editorial Advisory Board of my employer, Patch.com). He has developed several business models that point towards the profitability of hyperlocal journalism. As the hyperlocal path continues to be paved, will “old” media companies bend to these new models? And will they do it in time to stay afloat?