The players

Paul Bass sent me a good synopsis of various citizens/hyperlocal projects. The list at The Media Center is also comprehensive, but this one (in the continuation) provides some detail on the varying business and content models for newcomers to the whole concept.

UPDATE: Ken Sands also has an overview and is impatient with the MSM’s adoption rate.

Here are some models of experiments
in online hyperlocal news sites. 

? The old-fashioned town news model.
In the


case, a retired CBS newsman does reporting, then fields tons of photos and
captions from citizens. His site has made a big splash in town; it’s the main
source of news for people involved or interested in civic affairs.


? The link-to-everything model. This
guy’s raking in local ads—and getting lots of traffic—in an upstate

New York

town where
everyone hates the daily. He’s not a conventional journalist. He does no
reporting. But he is a journalist of sorts, or a “convener,” enabling the
reader to find all sorts of info, from births and deaths in town to city
council agendas to breaking TV news reports on car crashes… I called it the
anarchic model, at least in terms of design! There’s an exuberance to it… 

? The savvy, personality-driven,
higher-quality-writing but small-town-news-feel model. This is my favorite so
far, I think: 

? The quality-journalism model, with
real reporting, analysis, quality design, links to groups wrestling with the
big ideas, plus all the goodies the Internet offers (two-way communication).
They’ve already done an awesome series on meth, sex, and the underground
economy. This is a regional, not a hyperlocal site; but its approach offers a
good model for the quality that the hyperlocal sites can achieve, too.


? The not-for-profit model. In the
first case, foundations gave tons of money for an NYC experiment in all forms
of how the web can do journalism in new ways: neighborhood-by-neighborhood
forums on civic issues; links to think tanks; news reporting and citizen
reporting in neighborhoods; filtering through the masses of copy produced
everywhere else everyday about boroughs of New York, to give readers one-click

The other not-for-profit is a site
funded by the Columbia Journalism Review, giving its students a real site on
which to produce NYC news, and to incorporate audio, another promise of web


? The citizen-journalist model,
local: A popular
Vermontsite invites everyone to
contribute articles in areas they care about. This tends to be narrower, not
geographically, but ideologically … But it’s heavily used, and the way people
choose to report stories can be kind of interesting.


? The citizen-journalist model, over
broad geographical terrain. This is the world’s number-one successful example
of this model:

? The link-up-with-newspapers model.
All dailies have web sites, which (with a few exceptions) are not innovative,
which don’t have lots of separate investment. But in
Bakersfield, California ,
a paper decided to start covering one region through the web. Citizens were
invited to contribute the articles. Then once every two weeks they publish a
popular newspaper with the best articles. The web site doesn’t earn much money;
it produces the copy and citizen involvement. Then the biweekly paper produces
the ad revenue.


?Tons of discussion of debate is
going on over the web about how the new journalism should develop. Two sample



Here’s an
upcoming site that, based on what’s written here, may be closest:

Mike Orren is the Chief Product Officer of The Dallas Morning News; President of Belo Business Intelligence; husband to Crystal Orren; and a Mungarian at Munger Place Church in Dallas, TX. All opinions herein are mine alone.