New Jersey: the global epicenter of hyperlocal news


Update: See October coverage from Newsweek and N.J. Monthly.

When the media history books (ha, I mean, media history e-reader files) look back at the beginnings of online hyperlocal news, there will be a clear battlegrounds.

New Jersey.

Gannet has gone big in the Garden State with its InJersey collective, and the New York Times first dabbled in town-specific news with Maplewood. Baristanet, the gray old lady of hyperlocal news, calls Montclair, in Essex County, home, and, while it has pushed into Connecticut and onto Long Island, AOL’s Patch network got its roots in the Jerz.

The reasons why, of course, are pretty clear.

Here are some obvious motivations:

  • Proximity to New York City media capital — Yeah, yeah, yeah, NYC is inevitably the media capital of the country, so it helps to be just over a bridge or through a tunnel from where the big execs with deep pockets have their offices.
  • Suburbanized — Unlike the elitist, diverse communities of New York or otherwise statistically odd urban communities that other media experiments are often based, New Jersey is a fine place to test virtues and practices that could be exported throughout the country.
  • Densely populated — Lots of people in localized communities mean hyperlocal flagships have the chance for lots of unique visitors.
  • Wealthy — The chance for valuable advertising in the wealthy pockets of North Jersey surely wasn’t lost.
  • Home to media executives, journalists and others — Particularly outside of NYC, the educated, media crowd was already there to be used or develop on their own these products. Yes, the big execs with deep pockets may have offices in NYC but they probably drive to enclosed
  • Proximity to large Philadelphia media market — Gannet has opened some of its hyperlocals outside Philadelphia, like inCollingswood. It helps that as the NYC market wanes in the central part of the state, the country’s fourth largest market picks up, meaning the market can keep expanding.

Are there other reasons that make sense? Does this mean anything for New Jersey or the eventual development of hyperlocal news?

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