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Hyperlocal -- where does it stop?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by ColbertNation, Jan 1, 2009.

  1. ColbertNation

    ColbertNation Member

    I know that many papers see hyperlocal-content as the solution to the industry problems, and while I generally disagree with that, I understand why many of them do it, especially the smaller papers. But I always thought that the larger the paper, the more expanded the coverage.
    I'm at a 40-50K (admittedly a gray area when it comes to circulation size), and the editor has decreed that he wants all-local content on all three section fronts. To me, this has made us look Busch League on a number of occassions, not the least of which was the day the Dow dropped 900-plus points, and all we had about it on 1A was a refer to an inside page.
    I was visiting my parents over Christmas, and the sports front of their paper (roughly 16-20K) looked strikingly similar to ours because of the changes El Capitan has implemented in the last six months regarding our coverage. Again, to me, this makes us look very bad.
    I understand that we can't completely abandon local coverage, but isn't there a threshold where you have to start balancing local and national news?
  2. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    It depends on how large the paper is, and the location of the community that it serves. Even for most hyperlocal papers, a major national event should get some presence on the front page. At the same time, you have to take into consideration the fact that people can get a majority of national news at other sites (papers, TV, Web.) and you want to emphasize content that only your paper can provide.
  3. Board Stiff

    Board Stiff Member

    The next step in hyperlocal: For a premium subscription fee, reporters will come to your home and perform a dramatic reading of their stories.
  4. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    My solution, when I was at a thrice-weekly, was to localize all the "big national stories."

    The Dow drops 900 points? You can run it on front with comments and reactions from local bankers, investors, retirees, etc.

    Dow plunges 900 points
    Local widget factory retirees worry about pensions

    Then you run an AP photo and refer in the middle of the story "More on Dow's drop on A3"

    That's just one example off the top of my head.

    You don't ignore the problem. And it's localized.
  5. OTD

    OTD Active Member

    A paper my wife used to work at had an all-local-on-the-cover rule. So every time we bombed some unfortunate brown people, they'd call the local American Legion hall for reaction so they could put the story on the cover.
  6. Goldeaston

    Goldeaston Guest

    With the speed of the news cycle, that's how all news should be covered in print anymore. Tell people what happened, yes, but also tell them how it's going to affect them.
  7. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    we were hyper-local weekly and dominated. from start-up to 10K in 3 years -- in same town as longtime daily. it can thrive ... if you want it to.
  8. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    I agree. The thrice-weekly I was at routinely kicked the competing daily's ass.
  9. ColbertNation

    ColbertNation Member

    Our readership is a bit awkward. A lot of our circulation goes to older folks who aren't much for the Internets, and were not shy about voicing their disapproval when we published a Sunday section back in October with no national college football coverage. The space was taken up by a feature on a local swimming team that we were told to write after a parent (who works down the hall in advertising) complained that we never covered them. The rationale was that stories like that appeal to people who don't traditionally read the sports section. My thought (which was promptly dismissed) was that we're going to lose more readers by ommitting top-25 college football than we're going to bring in with non-traditional sports feature stories.
  10. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member

    There has to be some balance, but for the smaller papers the more local you have the better. You're average reader can get nation and world on Yahoo! -- not the story on their drama geek son playing in a regional table tennis tournament.

    I know it sounds weird, but I covered a table tennis championship once. One of the best times I had as a writer.
  11. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

  12. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    Perhaps at a thrice-weekly, yes. But at any place with a wire service, no, no, a thousand times no. What the hell does local yokel Joe Bratwurst know about the Dow dropping 900 points? What insight is he going to add to the story? "Gee, I sure am worried about the future. Just don't know what I'm gonna do." Or maybe we can get the president of the Chamber of Commerce to tell us that the local economy should be just fine, because it's diverse and locally based and just plain wonderful!

    I don't mean to belittle you in particular, because I'm sure this isn't something you would do under anything but extreme duress. And for papers that are under this sort of edict, yours is a perfectly reasonable strategy. But from where did we get the idea that it's not news unless someone in our community says something about it? It's so dumb, this notion that no one cares about anything that happens outside the Podunk city limits.

    And where do you draw the line? Dow drops 900, you refer to 3A. OK. What about 9/11? You gonna refer the main bar of that to 3A so you can run front-page stories about Joe Bratwurst giving blood and going to a prayer vigil?

    May the word hyperlocal be consigned to the dustbins of language, and may it take "mainstreaming" and "enterprise" with it. Bullshit words that don't mean a damn thing.
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