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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Putting the hyper in hyper-local news

There is a new online news source heading into our market that The GH Spin is watching closely.

AOL-owned Patch is putting the hyper in hyper-local news. It is creating community-specific sites for suburbs in 18 states so far (mostly near the coasts). It covers everything from little league games to crime, business openings and “average folks doing extraordinary things.” It will also include directories of local restaurants, businesses and organizations.

In Minnesota, Patch is hiring staff to create sites for several cities in the West Metro (plus Eagan). The first site, covering Edina, is slated to go live on November 1. Local staffers say Patch will expand into the East Metro eventually, but not yet. They don’t plan to serve the downtowns of Minneapolis and Saint Paul because that’s not where the advertisers want to be. Such is the continuation of the micro-targeting of those who consume news and ads.

Mainstream media has been wrestling with the best way to provide the trendy hyper-local news. In this market, Channel 5 has a “Where you live” section on its home page, but the content is light. The Star Tribune has shuffled its special zoned sections several times, trying to find the right fit, and MinnPost is working hard to claim its piece of the online news share in the state. All of these outlets should be watching patch.com very closely, as should local weeklies.