Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Is Hyperlocal Coverage a Potential Savour for Print Journalism?

I have attended and spoken at BlogOrlando for the past 2 years. One of the tracks at this unconference was Journalism. One of my favorite sessions was "Hyperlocal: It Ain't Chicken Dinner." It was a lively discussion by Chuck Welch, owner of Lakeland Local and Tommy Duncan, from Tampa's Sticks of Fire on the joys and pains of making the move to hyperlocal. Hyperlocal sites have been hyped (forgive the pun) as an alternative for journalists who have lost their jobs in print, broadcast and radio. And then the New York Times decided to weigh in on the matter in an April 12 story. Hyperlocal sites tend to target small slices of community, focusing on things including crime statistics, local school sports and local home sales. B the problem with these types of sites is also what makes them so successful -- the sites cover such a relatively small area it's hard to attract the funding needed to operate them profitably. But there appears to be some hope for the model. The article profiles Adrian Holovaty, who founded Chicago-based EveryBlock after working at The Washington Post. Holovaty was among those sharing in a $1.1 million grant from the Knight Foundation to create Every Block sites in 11 cities across the United States. The NABJ board should look at ventures like hyperlocal sites as potential career options for members. As Region II Director, I would encourage the board and local chapters to reach out to hyperlocal sites for partnerships, training and jobs. These days, we need to reach out to any source that could help our members continue their journalism careers.

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