No silver bullets in hyperlocal

The recent announcement regarding the closure of the New York Times experiment in hyperlocal journalism called The Local was shut down last week. And, while the knee-jerk reaction to the announcement might be viewed as a blow to hyperlocal news coverage, it is not.

Instead, what this signifies is very idiosyncratic nature of the current journalism environment. What works in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada, may not work at the New York Times, New York, United States or London Times, London, England, etc. In a highly fragmented marketplace, even similar projects will not be “the same” as others, as publishers, editors and journalists deliver news to their individualized audiences. In fact, it is the beauty of hyperlocal — no two neighbourhoods, hamlets, villages, towns, counties, cities are the same.

It is also what makes news interesting. While stories get shaped for mass audiences, it homogenizes the content; whereas, hyperlocal seeks to find the bits and pieces that makes any story about a particular place at a specific time within a unique context. Surely, that is what journalism is all about.