A couple of interesting thoughts on hyperlocal community.
First, Susan Mernit:
One thing it’s hard not to mention when we get into this hyperlocal, sustainable business question is the issue of scale. Most of the really good–and viable–hyperlocal sites–are small businesses that serve a focused audience, with decent ad revenues but nothing like the big numbers VCs need for their $5 to $13 MM investments. Sites like Jonathan Weber’s New West Network, George Johnson’s Buffalo Rising, Jarah Euston’s recently sold Fresno Famous and Deb Galant’s Baristanet–as well as Lisa William’s H20town–work because they are small and focused, because they have the same focus and value as hand-crafted cigars–they’re not meant to be big networks creating tons of shareholder value–they’re services for a specific time and place–built by a participant.
We believe the big opportunity in user generated content is aggregation. My blog will only generate $30k per year in revenue. But Techmeme, which occasionally links to my blog, can generate a lot more. Because they aggregate the content of hundreds, maybe thousands of blogs.
So where does this leave newspaper sites? I still believe that there is a place for newspapers to provide a community platform for participation, but newspaper.coms cannot forget their roles as aggregators and deeply involved participation leaders.