Hyperlocal news sites worth following


Updated @ 1:50 p.m. 11/07/10 Someone is doing a better job of keeping this up to date, so check that out.

*Updated @ 9:36 a.m. 12/23/09 **Many thanks to Jess Durkin for others.

I don’t think anyone’s arguing that a big portion of the future of news will be this hyperlocal movement that continues to dominate the conversation and has grown in focus for many years.

So, I’m surprised to say I haven’t been able to find is a comprehensive list of already existing products. This isn’t going to be that list, but let’s give it a start. Help me highlight the existing, active hyperlocal news sites worth following.

Read my definition of What is hyperlocal news?

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Content breakdown of a healthy, efficient hyperlocal news site

thomas-edison-mixing-chemicals-in-his-lab-in-njIt’s about finding the right mix.

I’m working with a couple, following many and thinking about a great number more hyperlocal, niche and other online-only news sites in this country of ours.

I talk a lot about where content comes from in a healthy, efficient news-gathering entity today or in the near future.

Whether it proves untenable or inaccurate or not isn’t necessarily the point. I have some goals for the geographically-based hyperlocal I’m helping in building — NEast Philly — and I want to float them.

Below I share what that looks like in my head, what it looks like now under the tireless effort of its editor and team of contributors and how it’s looked in the past.

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‘Citizen Journalism’ is a phrase just like ‘Horseless carriage,’ and we needed both


News-gathering can be profitable — there are oodles of examples of them. The challenge is taking those dollars to create the most efficiently-produced local journalism.

The big solution and sure trend of the future is fostering a community that covers itself.

The Quick Take

Citizen journalism is a transitional phrase that will soon be as dated as ‘horseless carriage’ is now

But we’re in a period of transition so the ‘citizen’ distinction serves a purpose.

So I’ve been thrilled to see that NEast Philly, the year-old, hyperlocal news site for Northeast Philadelphia to which I contribute and handle Web operations, has been slowly receiving more reader submissions. Lately, Editor Shannon McDonald tells me she’s receiving an item or two a week from readers.

We’ve been encouraging readers to send in photos, brief write-ups of their community events and any other kind of reporting that anyone can do. It’s coming, but still most comes from McDonald tracking down information, submissions and contacts.

I’m one to describe this as ‘UGC‘ — user-generated content — and have been known to use the phrase “citizen journalism.” After doing so once more, I was pointed to a few dated conversations about just how dated that phrase might be, and I have some thoughts on why it’s a concept that still has value.

Continue reading ‘Citizen Journalism’ is a phrase just like ‘Horseless carriage,’ and we needed both

Knight News Challenge grant proposals: Technically Philly and NEast Philly


With an Oct. 15 deadline looming, I’ve had my hand in two submissions requesting funds from the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge program.

One I wrote in conjunction with Shannon McDonald, requesting $40,000 to launch a Neighborhood Correspondents program for NEast Philly, a hyperlocal news site for Northeast Philadelphia.

The second was a proposal from the three of us behind Technically Philly, seeking $250,000 to help establish a sales, marketing and business services company to help grow and unite niche news sites in Philadelphia.

Of course, we were knocked from contention for a $10,000 Knight-Batten grant by the New York Times, but we think we have a good pitch on another day. Who knows what could happen?

Give both a look, comment, rate and spread the word. We won’t find out until November if we’re in the running and not until 2010 if we’d get any money. Still, a kid can dream, right?

See briefs of the two pitches below.

Continue reading Knight News Challenge grant proposals: Technically Philly and NEast Philly

Introducing a new revamped @NEastPhilly: neighborhood news looks good


For more than eight months, NEast Philly, the online hub for Northeast Philadelphia news I introduced back in May, grew to a small, but targeted, 6,000 monthly page views, housed on a free template from WordPress.com.

Finally we have broken free. Yesterday we launched the brand new redesign of our neighborhood news site for the future.

No longer just a forwarding domain, NEastPhilly.com now aims to be the Web portal for content creation, aggregation and dissemination of news, views, information and events happening in Northeast Philadelphia, a middle-class, still print-reliant community. We hope to recapture our traffic numbers from the old site quickly and move far beyond them.

If you’re interested in the geography or another online news startup find a voice, audience and value, grab the RSS feed here.

What’s more, it’ll also be another experiment in establishing a small, self-supporting local news product. Unlike the Technically Philly product I co-founded that is a swing at a high-end, double niche, NEast is a decidedly more modest proposal.

Continue reading Introducing a new revamped @NEastPhilly: neighborhood news looks good

NEastPhilly city controller debate brings voters

A crowd of 30 watch Democratic candidates for city controller from left to right: Incumbant Alan Butkovitz, John Braxton, Brett Mandel. Far right: Moderator Chris Satullo of WHYY

Last night was the city controller debate held by Northeast Philadelphia community news startup NEastPhilly.com and NPR affiliate WHYY.

I fully intend on updating this post with lessons learned, but for now, I’d like to just share some of the coverage.

Full video and audio will be up soon, so you’ll be able to make your own assessments on the debate.

NEastPhilly.com: an introduction, a City Controller debate announcement and more

Banner advertisement design by Brian James Kirk for TechnicallyPhilly.com

Here’s introducing one of the first regionally-focused community news portal in Philadelphia: NEastPhilly.com, home to anything and everything that happens in Northeast Philadelphia.

In a true testament to its rapid growth in its first few months of existence, tonight it is partnering with WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR affiliate, to host the third and final primary debate for Democratic city controller candidates. If you’re in the Philly area, I welcome you to come see a down and dirty triumph of a small media venture.

This could be the future of news coverage.

Last fall, Shannon McDonald, who is now on the tail end of a media firestorm, began plans to launch a quarterly print publication called NEast magazine, covering Northeast Philadelphia. I pushed her to think of beginning online — even if her core demographic was a working class community not heavily entrenched online. I thought it was an opportunity to begin a brand for cheap, making her known to what potential advertisers, readers and sources she could.

Continue reading NEastPhilly.com: an introduction, a City Controller debate announcement and more