Plumb Lines

April 13, 2009

Hyper-Local or Local Hype?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthew Schmitz @ 10:45 am

New ‘hyper-local’ blogs are designed to give people neighborhood-specific news:

The sites, like EveryBlock, Outside.in, Placeblogger and Patch, collect links to articles and blogs and often supplement them with data from local governments and other sources. They might let a visitor know about an arrest a block away, the sale of a home down the street and reviews of nearby restaurants.

Tailoring news sites to block-level specificity is not exactly new. Neighborhood news letters, and small-town ‘updates’ were commonplace where I grew up in  rural Nebraska. The problem with these sites is that they tend to be either mundane or sensationalistic, that is, they comprehend idle chatter and gossip: who won the  high-school basketball game or who lost the battle to save their marriage.

The other problem with these sites is that they don’t really do anything to replace traditional news sources. They merely cannibalize and collect information others have worked to produce. Since the work of journalism has to be outsourced to somewhere, one of the sites has taken the step of hiring its own reporters. If their model works, this could be a lot more interesting and important than other new-media developments.

(cross-posted at the electrician’s apprentice)

-Matthew Schmitz

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