The landscape for hyperlocal news sites heading into 2015 will grow a little more populous, while established sites look to expand their portfolios and focus on diversifying revenue growth and mobile accessibility. “So many of us started in the depths of the recession and we have managed to work our way through that,” says Dylan Smith, president of the hyperlocal trade group Local Independent Online News Publishers and editor and publisher of Tucson Sentinel in Arizona. “It is never easy to keep a business going, but the light at the end of the tunnel is shining a little brighter.”
Comcast, which shut down the neighborhood news last February amid financial losses, is relaunching it Thursday in Chicago, hoping to reconnect with its users and revive its fortunes in the challenging hyperlocal space.
Ken Doctor on lessons from the crumbling of AOL’s Patch: “The lesson now dawning on publishers worldwide is that their reliance on advertising as the major support of their news businesses is all but over. As print revenue’s decline has accelerated, growing digital ad revenue is increasingly tough as well.”
TVB EVP-Chief Marketing Officer Abby Auerbach: “Station websites are just the beginning of the online resources that are available through local TV stations. More and more, broadcast groups are adding hyperlocal to their online mix, giving marketers the ability to reach deep into a marketplace with precise targeting. You get who you’re targeting where, with hyperlocal resources that can be tapped into right now — not in some unwritten future.”
In the small New York community of Batavia, local news site The Batavian — which started life as an experiment for Gatehouse, but has since gone independent — has thrived on a mix of breaking news, photography and display advertisements.
The national and regional coverage of Hurricane Irene was fine before the storm actually passed through my suburban New Jersey town. But then, what I wanted — and needed — to know came from my local AOL Patch site. There were fresh updates, pictures and even a brief video tour of the damage. The lesson here for broadcasters dabbling in hyperlocal websites or mobile apps is that you can’t do it on the cheap. Just like any kind of journalism, hyperlocal journalism takes well-educated, well-trained, responsible reporters and editors.
The AOL-owned network of more than 800 sites upped the ante last week by adding thousands of unpaid bloggers to its editorial engine. Patch President Warren Webster says he’s eyeing a near-future map of Patch communities with very few blank spaces in between. Claiming that early viewership metrics are exceeding expectations, Webster also says that mobile platforms will play a key role in Patch’s continued growth.
A panel of local media players talked this morning at the ILM East conference about the challenges of doing hyperlocal effectively and profitably. Hyperlocal has long been a vexing challenge, for publishers, from a content creation standpoint as well as making money.
Many players in the content business are building new websites to provide “hyperlocal” local coverage — comprehensive community news that sometimes goes down to the block level — in bids for highly engaged readers and countless small advertisers. But new research shows that the heaviest consumers of local news, including hyperlocal reports, still rely most often on TV, newspapers and radio, according to this article by Jason Klein, president-CEO of the Newspaper National Network.