Rockville Central to Become a Hyperlocal News Site, Without the Site — It Will Go Facebook-Only

Citing limited resources, competition from Rockville Patch, and the confusion of having “two different conversations going on,” hyperlocal news site Rockville Central, which covers Rockville, Md., announced that all of its content will now be housed on its Facebook page, Nieman Journalism Lab reported.

Rockville Central editor Cindy Cotte Griffiths told NJL 2,000 of the site’s average of 20,000 monthly hits come from Facebook, adding that rather than duplicating efforts on the Web site and Facebook page, the staff will focus on community building and conversations around the news. She added:

There are always two different conversations going on. (Facebook is) where the people are. Everyone’s always trying to get people out of Facebook, and we’re like, “Well, we’re already here.” It seems like a place where people are themselves. We’re curious to see what happens with that.

For entities and organizations that are trying to turn a profit, or have other institutional or organizational reasons to have a separate identity, it can make sense to have a separate Web space. But Rockville Central is different and, as we thought hard about it, we realized we could find no compelling reason that Rockville Central needs to exist as a separate site.

There’s this big party. It’s likely only to get bigger. And we want to be in there.

Founder Brad Rourke added in a blog post to announce the move:

For a city its size, Rockville is well-covered, journalistically. We don’t need to duplicate the efforts of our friends. (How many recaps of the Mayor and Council meetings can you read, really?)

The move is meeting some resistance. Reader Nick Ferris posted the following comment:

As a loyal reader of Rockville Central for several years, I must say this decision appalls me. Facebook is the garbage dump of the Internet, and Rockville Central really deserves to stand separate from it. I also think putting your entire infrastructure in the hands of a third-party service already well-known for its growing privacy concerns and ever-changing terms of service is a bad move. Rockville Central will be making this move without me and certainly many other readers as well.