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The dilemma: Hyperlocal news will open the floodgates of ad revenues tomorrow, but can’t keep Backfence afloat today 7/6/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Hyperlocal news.

The news we’ve always wanted is the news that affects our lives directly. MySpace and Facebook have been phenomenally successful because they deliver the most important news — that of family and friends. But from there, you have to jump all the way up to the metro area level, where we get news from daily newspapers and local TV stations. And, the only news they provide regularly that affects us directly is weather and major league sports, both of which are delivered in more detail and on-demand on the Internet and cable TV. What’s left is stories about someone else’s community.

So, imagine a future like this. The young never pick-up the habit of getting news from either daily newspapers or local TV, and instead get all their news from the Internet using a variety of devices. Older people join them. Daily newspapers and local TV stations collapse because most cannot effectively compete online against other outlets that are now providing the national, international, sports, entertainment, and weather news that was once their staple. Classified advertisers yawn, because online classified ads are better and cheaper. But other local advertisers freak-out — how are they going to get the word out about their cars, casinos, tires, fashions, restaurants, etc.?

So suddenly, money will be burning holes in the pockets of advertisers anxious to fund the hyperlocal news we always wanted — news of neighborhoods, crime, roads, schools, sports, zoning, charitable events and more. The problem is, how can the pioneers of hyperlocal news, like the now-folding Backfence (see Jeff Jarvis), stay solvent before the advertiser freak-out occurs? The bad news is they won’t. The good news is the “freak-out” will happen sooner than anyone now thinks. The worst news is reserved for those who do nothing.


1. Richard - 7/6/07

I tend to agree that news dissemination is headed to smaller and smaller groups, but I think those groups will define themselves more along shared interests and not necessarily geography.

Backfence was designed around pre-existing geographical designations…everybody in the same town lumped in together. As if mere geography was enough to bind them together.

This time of the year I can get much of my favorite news from mlb.com.

2. Steve Boriss - 7/7/07

Richard, I agree that groups will define themselves along a myriad of lines, geography being just one of them. Sports and other avocations are others. Political ideology, yet another, with a full left to right spectrum. Individuals will be members of many communities, and shift freely among them.

3. Small news, big plans and no money: hyperlocal journalism - 7/13/07

[…] the first one to be launched in Loudoun County, Virginia, writes Farhi. Another solution could be Steve Boriss horror scenario for the average local newspaper owner: hyperlocal online news rule, local newspaper collapses, […]

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