This is the second in a series of posts on key dimensions of Hyperlocal. Other posts in this series are:
In the initial post in this series, I introduced the following core dimensions of Hyperlocal/Local:
- Local News/Journalism
- Local Business/Commerce
- Local Advertising
- Local Community
- HyperLocal Business Models
This post will briefly explore the first 2 dimensions – Local News and Local Business/Commerce.
An important service to the Local community is News about the Community, or Community perspectives and reactions to the News. A nice definition of HyperLocal News is provided by Christopher Wink here: Hyperlocal news: a definition.
Keeping Informed about HyperLocal News Media
Here are a few of the sites I regularly visit to keep track of happenings in the Local/Hyperlocal News media space:
- BuzzMachine – Jeff Jarvis’ blog
- News Innovation
- Journalism 2.0 – Mark Briggs’ blog
- Lost Remote
- Media Transparent
- HyperlocalBlogger – Matt McGee
There are many, many Hyperlocal blogs and websites currently servicing their local communities. Wink provides a nice overview of some of the major ones in his post Hyperlocal news sites worth following.
This is a core area of innovation at present, and a slew of recent acquisitions by major media companies of hyperlocal news platform providers illustrates this point.
Some of the key innovators:
Real-time News Feeds
Finally, with the rise of Twitter, real-time geotagged feeds are also breaking onto the scene. Pat Kitano‘s Hyperlocal Curation of Real Time News post from November 2009 provides some interesting examples. Kitano’s Breaking News Network is a powerful example of location-relevant breaking news.
And of course, Twitter has launched location-based Trending Topics, would should add additional impetus to this trend.
Here, we’re talking about the commercial aspect of HyperLocal. A profound insight into the potential de-coupling of “core” Local News from Local Business services was recently delivered by Clay Shirky at the Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy in September 2009. A must-listen-to presentation IMHO.
There are many, many players and platforms that service local business needs, with many more soon to come no doubt. Here are a smattering of players in a very competitive space:
Business Listings – General
- Insider Pages
Business Listings – Niche
Services – Niche
- My Builder
As you can see, there are a number of different spaces by which software providers and hosting sites are seeking to provide services for local commerce. In the next post, we’ll look at two additional hyperlocal/local dimensions: Advertising and Community.
As HyperLocal emerges as a key trend for Media in 2010, The Guardian’s Mercedes Bunz has a nice piece discussing the momentum of HyperLocal going into 2010, and highlights some concerns as well around local news reporting.
Large Media Companies acquire HyperLocal startups in 2009
Bunz first highlights key acquisitions of HyperLocal startups by larger media companies in 2009. Specifically:
- AOL bought two local startups with Patch, which brings local news to communities, and Going, a local event listing platform
- AOL’s big rival, MSNBC, acquired the hyperlocal aggregator EveryBlock
- CNN is investing $7m in the aggregator Outside.in
- The Clarity Media Group of billionaire Philip Anschutz, who owns the local news network Examiner.com acquired the citizen journalism site NowPublic
Google and HyperLocal
Of course, Bunz also mentions recent moves by Google in HyperLocal, which I’ve discussed extensively on this blog. Here’s what Bunz has to say about Google and HyperLocal:
If you’re still not convinced, look at Google. Today an increasing number of consumers use their PCs or mobile phones to find local products and services, and quite a few recent developments at the search engine giant took that into account. Apart from Twitter’s integration into Google with the option to get to know what is happening around you at any one point, Google offers Goggles, a mobile video and image search aimed at local information. In addition, it is testing Favorite Places. It has identified 100,000 businesses in the U.S. who receive a window decal with a unique QR code to be scanned with a phone handing out customer reviews.
And what of HyperLocal reporting?
Interestingly, observes Bunz,
If you take a closer look, you quickly figure out that the actual hyperlocal investment is mainly business-related. … But while the business side is taken up, the reporting side isn’t.
As the editor-in-chief of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, said earlier this year, we face a “collapse of the structure of political reporting”. While businesses get their favourite place on Google, there won’t be any reporting on councils, council committees and the courts. This may mean corruption and inefficiency go unreported.
Despite all the investments above, local news still needs to be supported.
Top Hyperlocal News Sites – A list
As I was writing this post, I also stumbled on a nice listing of top HyperLocal news sites (not from the Guardian).
In Summary …
Look for a lot of innovation to happen around HyperLocal in 2010.
More analysis of the flurry of HyperLocal activity of the past few weeks, this time from Fast Company: Is HyperLocal Journalism’s Savior? Reviews the EveryBlock acquisition by MSNBC, the Aspen FOCAS 2009 conference on the Future of Journalism (and the accompanying CUNY HyperLocal business models), and other related stories.