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I'm a web writer/editor at the World Bank in Washington, DC. I also write about hyperlocal grassroots journalism trends and other subjects for various publications (Washington Post, Columbia Journalism Review, Planetizen, Online Journalism Review).
June 24, 2008
[Editor's note: From time to time, I will invite a handful of guest writers to answer a question over of the course of a week. This week, the question is "how can journalists crack the local market?"
Newspaper companies, search engines, Web start-ups and independent journalists all are looking to capture the "hyperlocal" market, delivering neighborhood news and information to attract neighborhood advertising revenue. Today, Tom Grubisich kicks off the week with look at the current state of neighborhood news websites.]
With eyes closed, push a pin on a map, and you'll land almost certainly on a community that has a website offering grassroots news. Just a few years ago, you would have had to take maybe 10 or 20 stabs with your pin to connect. Welcome to the miracles of Web publishing 2.0.
That's the above-the-fold good news. The bad news is that the profusion of hyperlocal sites has not led to the creation of thriving and lively virtual town squares across America. Most sites are not much more than cybernetic scrims behind which 21st century Wizards of Oz manipulate news aggregators and other software marvels of the 2.0 revolution.
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Robert Niles is the author of How to Make Money Publishing Community News Online and Stories from a Theme Park Insider. You can connect with Robert via the following services: