My recent blog entryÂ about the new suburban web site launched by theÂ Washington Post in Loundoun County, Virginia, put the hyperlocal category on my radar.Â Last week 19-station chainÂ Fisher CommunicationsÂ purchased Pegasus News, a hyperlocalÂ web site in Dallas. An article in the (Charlotte, North Carolina!) Business JournalÂ said financial terms were not disclosed. ItÂ 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 OrrenÂ said in aÂ blog entryÂ that the sale meant that the siteÂ had been domesticated but not “fixed” (a reference to the removal ofÂ sex-organs in pets).
The Pegasus dealÂ stands in contrast toÂ the purchase by theÂ McClatchy newspaper empire of twoÂ hyperlocal startups, Â FresnoÂ Famous Â (and Modesto Famous). Today newspapers own local news. In most televisionÂ markets the news editor of the TV station probablyÂ checks the local paper each day for the day’s news assignments. Generally speaking,Â TV is not taken seriously as a news gathering medium.
ButÂ local TV news stationsÂ retain aÂ stronger affinity withÂ their audiences than do newspapers. (See <strikethru>page 10 </strikethru> Table 1 ofÂ the PDFÂ summarizing a HarvardÂ 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).Â Â
If local TV stations and newspapersÂ square offÂ forÂ domination of the hyperlocal web, newspapers could find themselves at the disadvantage — without big newsrooms, TV could find its self-interest inÂ embracing this new medium of citizen involvement on the web. And TVÂ certainly has the ability to drive viewers to its affiliate websites.
“To really go sufficiently hyperlocal, LoudounExtra.com 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 LoudounExtra.com 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.”