The hyperlocal promise
innovation | sustainability | diversity
Piet Bakker
Marco van Kerkhoven
“Sustainable hyperlocal media”
“Location-based technologies (...) offer a
potential revolution for very local media”
“Peop...
Where
Who
Why
How
What
Where
Who
Why
How
What
search: municipality & “news”
independent sites
original & general local new...
One site
88
More sites
262
# sites
350
123 operations
7.5 per owner
1.8 per municipality
88 with one
site
35 with
more sit...
Filling the news
gap?
Business model & motivation
 motivation: filling the news gap
 individuals, small teams, part-timers &
volunteers
“In 20...
Content
politicspolitics
crime/911crime/911
humanhuman
interestinterestcultureculture
sportssports
otherother
businessbusi...
Performance:
information, advertising, content, participation
Discussion
beyond innovation ...
• Launching is not the issue, making a hyperlocal news
sites sustainable is.
• How to ove...
twitter: @PietBakker | @martincornelis
mail: piet.bakker@hu.nl | marco.vankerkhoven@hu.nl
web: www.journalismlab.nl
Piet B...
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The Hyperlocal Business Model in Practice - The future of journalism Cardiff 2013

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Local reporting has become an endangered occupation. Print publications merge, close down or face budget cuts because audiences and advertisers spend more time and money online. Local broadcasting has not succeeded in filling the gap in local news coverage. The result is that fewer journalists are covering local affairs. Online models were expected to take over the role of traditional media as they were more flexible and cheaper to operate, especially in terms of production and distribution while these media could also use citizen as contributors. In the Netherlands we identified 123 hyperlocal news websites with 350 editions that are more ambitious than the average blogger in terms of scope (local news), frequency (recent updates), business (advertising and other income sources), staff (participation on a regular basis) and journalistic practices (indications of professionalism). We analysed all websites to uncover their business model, their content, their motives and the staff they employ. Data was gathered through content analyses of websites and interviews with owners and staff members. Results indicate that models are extremely diverse, ranging from fully staffed professional operations to spare-time home-operated websites. In terms of revenues, most sites rely on banner advertising. Offering local content does not seem to be the biggest problems. Many sites, however, in particular the smaller operations, suffer from underperformance in terms of business models, advertising, attracting staff and use of social media. Launching a site does not seem to be a major issue, but maintaining it, changing it when technology or market changes demand that, and develop a sustainable business model seems to be more problematic.

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The Hyperlocal Business Model in Practice - The future of journalism Cardiff 2013

  1. 1. The hyperlocal promise innovation | sustainability | diversity Piet Bakker Marco van Kerkhoven
  2. 2. “Sustainable hyperlocal media” “Location-based technologies (...) offer a potential revolution for very local media” “People feel attached (...) to their neighbourhood and street.” “Hyperlocal services could deliver a plurality of relevant news (...) bringing our communities together for good purpose.”
  3. 3. Where Who Why How What Where Who Why How What search: municipality & “news” independent sites original & general local news content analysis & interviews search: municipality & “news” independent sites original & general local news content analysis & interviews RQ & Method
  4. 4. One site 88 More sites 262 # sites 350 123 operations 7.5 per owner 1.8 per municipality 88 with one site 35 with more sites 417 municipalities 199 with a local news site
  5. 5. Filling the news gap?
  6. 6. Business model & motivation  motivation: filling the news gap  individuals, small teams, part-timers & volunteers “In 2002 we became a one- paper-city. I felt that some competition was needed. So I started my own site in 2003.” “In 2002 we became a one- paper-city. I felt that some competition was needed. So I started my own site in 2003.” “Regular media contained very little news on accidents and crimes.” “Regular media contained very little news on accidents and crimes.” “We want to be financially independent and hire professional journalists and sales people.” “We want to be financially independent and hire professional journalists and sales people.” “We want to break even and perhaps make some money (…). If we make no money at the end of the year I will pull the plug.” “We want to break even and perhaps make some money (…). If we make no money at the end of the year I will pull the plug.”
  7. 7. Content politicspolitics crime/911crime/911 humanhuman interestinterestcultureculture sportssports otherother businessbusiness non-localnon-local 1215 items last 10 items on all sites 50% of the sites 50% of the sites 80% of the sites 67% of the sites 24 sites with more than 50% crime-news
  8. 8. Performance: information, advertising, content, participation
  9. 9. Discussion beyond innovation ... • Launching is not the issue, making a hyperlocal news sites sustainable is. • How to overcome underperformance (social media, ads sales, revenue model, UGC...).
  10. 10. twitter: @PietBakker | @martincornelis mail: piet.bakker@hu.nl | marco.vankerkhoven@hu.nl web: www.journalismlab.nl Piet Bakker Marco van Kerkhoven

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