The media giants are keener than ever to jump on the hyperlocal bandwagon, if the latest developments from both sides of the Atlantic are anything to go by.
AOL-owned Patch – the biggest network of hyperlocals in the US – is to expand dramatically, increasing the hundred sites it runs currently to five hundred over the next six months. The move will mean taking on 500 new staffers, making the company the biggest hirer of journalists in the States. Good news maybe, although Patch has been accused of overworking its staff.
Meanwhile back in the UK, Trinity Mirror has just launched a network of hyperlocal news websites which work in partnership with independent hyperlocals such as Bournville Village and the Lichfield Blog.
One such, Birmingham Mail Communities, was launched on August 16th, with 34 hyperlocal sections covering different areas of Birmingham in minute detail.
In its press release, Trinity Mirror is keen to stress that the hyperlocals will get something out of the deal. In exchange for allowing their material to be used in both print and online, the sites will be credited properly, ‘ appear prominently’ via an RSS feed and have access to ‘relevant pictures’.
The arrangement is being hailed as a step forward in much-needed cooperation between hyperlocal start-ups and mainstream media organisations. But to writers who have been offered a byline and a copy of the publication in exchange for unpaid work, it may sound worryingly familiar.
For NMJ’s case studies of hyperlocals, click here.