Friday musings on hyperlocal news

A couple weeks ago, Matthew Hurst created the Hyperlocal page on Wikipedia. Previously, the Hyperlocal redirect went to Local News. Here is Matthew’s rationale for the change:

One of the reasons behind separating these two is that hyperlocal content, and especially blogging, is not simply content about a location and of a particular geographic granularity. It is intended for people resident in that location and, importantly, it is written by residents of the location. Local news does not require the later.

According to the article, hyperlocal content is characterized by three major elements:

  1. It refers to entities and events that are located within a well-defined, community-scale area.
  2. It is intended primarily for consumption by residents of that area.
  3. It is written by an individual resident in that area.

I think this definition is missing a few things.

Much of what I write on this blog could be considered hyperlocal under the above definition (assuming Edmonton falls under the well-defined, community-scale part). The same could be said of The Edmonton Journal, however, which is why I think the current definition on Wikipedia is missing something. The most obvious addition would be a fourth point about being locally owned/operated.

I like that the definition does not mention any particular medium, such as blogging, but rather leaves it open. However, I’m not sure the third point is general enough. The phrase “written by” suggests that we’re talking about the traditional article format, with sentences and paragraphs. I think hyperlocal is much more than that. Consider sites like EveryBlock, which contain hyperlocal news created by software (though I suppose EveryBlock conflicts with the locally owned/operated concept, but you get the idea). Sure humans wrote the software, but the content produced for consumption comes from an algorithm. Shouldn’t that count?

Another thought – what about the people who create hyperlocal content, whether writers or programmers or other creatives? Should we call them Hyperlocal Journalists? Before you journalist types get all defensive, consider that there are twenty types of journalism listed on Wikipedia. What’s the harm in adding one more? 🙂

Finally, I think there’s a place for aggregators and curators in the hyperlocal ecosystem. Perhaps another defining characteristic of hyperlocal content is that it is spread all over the place. Aggregators and curators can sift through all of that content to help make it more discoverable.

One thought on “Friday musings on hyperlocal news

  1. I think there does need to be a split of local and hyperlocal.

    I would lump the Edmonton Journal (and all traditional newsrooms) into the local category. They provide local news, but aren’t exclusively local in coverage. Nor are most even owned locally.

    While blogs that focus just on Edmonton (or say, 95% Edmonton because of various jump-off points of some topics) would be hyperlocal. I would include a flickr account all about Edmonton, a YouTube channel, etc… as potentially hyperlocal too. I don’t know if hyperlocal has too be completely made up of journalism in its traditional forms, because local is the key.

    It’s probably going to be something up for debate for some time. And traditional media is going to try and drive home how hyperlocal they are, even while producing (or providing) regional, national and international content.

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