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Hyperlocal News must pass an all-new standard: the “Tell-a-Friend Test.” New WaPo site comes up short. 7/17/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Hyperlocal news, Washington Post.

Scott Karp shares my view that the Washington Post took a big, admirable step into hyperlocal news with LoudounExtra.com, and yet somehow didn’t quite hit the mark. What exactly is “the mark”? Let me suggest a new standard by which to judge hyperlocal news sites — the “Tell-a-Friend Test.” This is about whether the news provided is sufficiently compelling to readers that they actually pass it on to someone in their household or hyperlocal community, whether in-person or electronically.

When hyperlocal news succeeds, it will be because it successfully re-created and upgraded the word-of-mouth, village-based communication processes of 500 years ago, before the printing press was invented. The human condition includes the irresistable urge to hear and spread news that directly affects us, our families, and our communities. That’s why many years from now, the printing press, broadcast towers, cable TV, and metro area-wide news will be seen as temporary bridges that solved problems of disseminating news quickly and widely, but were less than ideal because their news was about other people’s lives, and they made us observers, not participants in the news process. By contrast, the hyperlocal news experience will be like hearing and spreading the latest facts, opinions, and rumors that come from a village’s authorities, know-it-alls, eccentrics, gossip-mongers, friends, braggarts, neighbors, and people who just plain talk too much.

With LoudounExtra.com, the Washington Post is trying to force-fit what newspapers now do into smaller, more local areas. But the ultimate solution will arrive when someone figures out how to capture the content that neighborhood gossips and their listeners now spread, and expands this into larger areas.


1.   You can't own conversation by andydickinson.net - 7/18/07

[…] scenario came to mind as I looked through the coverage that Rob Curley’s (The Washington post,) hyperlocal project , the […]

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