It takes a village – hyperlocal means not going it alone

Jeff Jarvis takes the occasion of the “long-time coming closing” of backfence to talk broady about the Local Challenge:

Hyperlocal will not, I firmly believe, happen at one site. It will work only via networks: content, commercial, social. It will work by gathering, not producing.

In other words, hyperlocal efforts must be based on content aggregation and syndication models, not just content creation models. We need flexible networks for connecting together content producers, advertisers (funding sources), and content publishers.

Jarvis also points to Paul Fahri’s “Rolling the Dice” in the AJR, which asks “is there a real business in this kind of business?,” and answers that “the field as a whole is so far financially marginal.”

The problem is that Fahri’s approach looks at it from the point of view of individual sites, not networks of sites. Jarvis argues:

we will need a combination of models and platforms: Newspapers will have local sites. Local bloggers will do their own thing. There is a need for group sites like Backfence or GoSkokie, which helped inspire it, where people can contribute. There is a need to organize all this; I hope can do that (disclosure: I’m an adviser). There is a need to support all this financially; that is where newspapers can play a crucial role, setting up ad networks and infrastructure. And then we still need to see what will motivate people to contribute what they know: money, ego, influence, what? And we need to see what help people need: technology, attention, training, support.

I registered for and took a look around, which Jarvis mentions, but they don’t seem to have made up into my neck of the woods (01950). There was only one story, which was a story about their Metro North edition. (Which means it was applicable, but very broadly to the whole North Shore- certainly not hyperlocal).

There’s a better, organic local site at Newburyport 01950 – but there doesn’t seem to be any way to tell that, except to link to specific stories.

What’s the best hyperlocal site where you are?

How can for-profit newspapers learn to work with local information sources (professional, amateur, and everything in between) in a way that enriches both?

Can’t we imagine a business model for a network which is sustainable across the network rather than focused on profit making at a single site?

Licensing through things like Creative Commons is also part of the picture – enabling legitimate, stable content reuse with attribution and rights control.

Another missing piece is a solution the global ID problem – I had to create yet another account at just to be able to point other 01950 interested folks to the Newburyport River Fest this weekend. Will I ever use that account again?

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