A decade ago, hyperlocal journalism was held up as the model that could perhaps save a dying industry. The logic was that sites that reported on news in small areas could also bring in local ad revenue. As time has gone on, efforts have fallen flat, and the industry is now shifting towards hyperinterest journalism.
As NewsCred Blog’s Lyndsey points out, AOL’s Patch and The New York Times’ Local of Fort Greene/Clinton Hill and the Local East Village publications have been “struggling to stay above the surface.”
Patch, which receives 7.5 million unique visitors per month, cannot come close to the Huffington Post’s 31.4 million unique visitors this past May.
With the internet has changed the definition of a community, papers are now turning to hyperinterest reporting. This targets niche audiences, just as hyperlocal papers aimed to do, but online.
Lyndsey writes that these types of stories “also solve major revenue problems. With highly specialized content and a more specific segment of readers, advertisers can target consumers based on common experiences and interests rather than simply geographic location. By providing greater opportunities for advertisers, the publications themselves create much greater profit potential.”
Gina Chen of Save the Media says that in the past, papers would put out stories that would try and appeal to the masses. But with the internet, hyperinterest reporting is key.
“The thing is, people don’t always or only define themselves geographically. Some define themselves by their interests — skeet shooter, video gamer, foodie. Others define themselves by their needs — person in search of a baby sitter, newcomer to a community, job hunter,” she says.
“What if newspapers’ Web site helps these readers find what they wanted. To do that, news organizations must figure out what their product is.”
Papers have been struggling to make up for ad revenue losses, and hyperinterest journalism might be one of the many methods to make it back.
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