Will hyperlocal news last?

February 28, 2012

Listen to this conversation on Eight Forty-Eight

There was a time when a number of media types thought that hyperlocal journalism--think neighborhood-levels news--would save the fourth estate.

Not anymore. Patch, AOL's big gamble to bring hyperlocal journalism to the masses, has been the victim of numerous reports claiming its efforts haven't paid off, in page views or in revenue. Several weeks ago, Jim Romenesko reported that Patch planned to "to cut staff and freelance budgets and start producing 'easy, quick-hitting, cookie-cutter copy.'" On a more hyperlocal-local scale, a Chicago Reader piece by Michael Miner from two years ago wondered if Patch was "an evil slave empire or a boon to hungry journalists?" 

The heat is particularly strong from those inside the media. Bob Garfield, host of the public radio show On the Media, recently declared that the hyperlocal news is not a workable model in a fragmented media environment.

The debate made us curious about who actually frequents sites like the Roscoe View Journal ("Your definitive guide to Chicago's Rosecoe Village and West Lakeview"), to name a Chicago example. Do you find these sites useful, or do you find news about potholes and parking boring? We open the phones at 9 am, so if you can sneak away from your cubicle, call us at 312.923.9239.

Bob Garfield will come on to make his case. And hyperlocal publisher Mike Fourcher will explain why the critics are wrong. Finally, Rich Gordon from Northwestern University shares what he's learned from years of experimentation in the classroom.