Looks like The Washington Post is cooking up a new hyperlocal news service of some sort, according to TBD.com. TBD’s Erik Wemple reviewed a survey the Post is circulating and made some guesses as to what might be on the way.
“The new Post initiative, says a source, would carve things up even more ‘micro’ than [Patch.com], as in subdivision by subdivision,” Wemple writes. “It’s not clear at this point just how the Post would accomplish such a feat given the content needs of such an approach. Managers at the paper, according to the source, have held ‘hundreds’ of meetings on this initiative.”
Indeed, the economics of hyperlocal news have posed challenges for outlets getting into the business. Most efforts so far, such as EveryBlock, have relied mainly on aggregating and little on actual reporting. And since advertisers usually want to reach bigger, not smaller, audiences, selling ads on hyperlocal sites is inherently problematic. As Wemple notes, a previous Post stab at hyperlocalism, which covered the outlying suburb of Loudoun County, Va., failed to reach viability.
Regardless, hyperlocal sites can sometimes give freelancers business — that is, if they’re willing to pay anything. Wemple guesses that the Post site will “feature voices from the community,” but that could mean little more than incorporating already active bloggers into the mix.
Darn bloggers, giving it up for free! As Samuel Johnson said, “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”