TV chain buys Pegagus; tube vs. paper in hyperlocal?

My recent blog entry about the new suburban web site launched by the Washington Post in Loundoun County, Virginia, put the hyperlocal category on my radar. Last week 19-station chain Fisher Communications purchased Pegasus News, a hyperlocal web site in Dallas. An article in the (Charlotte, North Carolina!) Business Journal said financial terms were not disclosed. It adds that:

“Pegasus launched its Web site in 2006 with a small editorial team and content partnerships with local newspapers. It provides news and information about the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan scene, including information on area garage sales, sports and other local news.”

Pegasus founder Mike Orren said in a blog entry that the sale meant that the site had been domesticated but not “fixed” (a reference to the removal of sex-organs in pets).

The Pegasus deal stands in contrast to the purchase by the McClatchy newspaper empire of two hyperlocal startups,  Fresno Famous  (and Modesto Famous). Today newspapers own local news. In most television markets the news editor of the TV station probably checks the local paper each day for the day’s news assignments. Generally speaking, TV is not taken seriously as a news gathering medium.

But local TV news stations retain a stronger affinity with their audiences than do newspapers. (See <strikethru>page 10 </strikethru> Table 1 of the PDF summarizing a Harvard study about news-viewing habits.) Hyperlocal “news” will be different — in both topic (the cat rescued by the fire dept) and how it is produced (very likely by some citizen contributor).  

If local TV stations and newspapers square off for domination of the hyperlocal web, newspapers could find themselves at the disadvantage — without big newsrooms, TV could find its self-interest in embracing this new medium of citizen involvement on the web. And TV certainly has the ability to drive viewers to its affiliate websites.

Meanwhile, in a look back at the Loudoun launch, Scott (Publishing 2.0) Karp — who lives in that Virginia county – writes that “ isn’t hyperlocal enough.” Karp says:

“To really go sufficiently hyperlocal, needs to identify EVERY discreet community and determine whether someone is already blogging about the community to include them in their blog network. If not, then should recruit a blogger to write on regular basis about that community, e.g. attend all of the HOA meetings, attend all community events, interview neighbors, etc.”

I found Karp’s post on through Mark Glaser at MediaShift, who also published this post-mortem interview with Mark Potts, co-founder of the recently defunct hyperlocal site Backfence.