By DEBBIE GALANT
In his latest blog post, “Hyperlocal Cooties,” Jeff Jarvis frets that recent retrenchment by Carll Tucker’s Daily Voice and staff cuts at Patch might make people give up on the concept of hyperlocal. He offers a post mortem on many of the “cootied corpses” of failed hyperlocal, from BackFence to Everyblock, and acknowledges a maxim that most independent hyperlocals have espoused for years: “Maybe the truth is that hyperlocal won’t scale. One entity won’t own thousands of towns and their sites because the successful site is very much a part of the community.”
Hyperlocal may not scale, or make anybody rich — but Jarvis believes it can succeed when very dedicated journalists set them up in their own communities. And he wants to see way way more.
In New Jersey alone, we have 565 towns and given this state, each is an opportunity ripe for corruption that needs to be covered. Even if we say that one hyperlocal site could cover three towns (some are small), that’s still more than 150 bloggers needed. I’d say we have a bit more than a dozen in the state now. Is it reasonable to think we could get 10+ times more? No. But I’d be ecstatic three three or four or fives times more.
In a little more than 24 hours, Jarvis’s post garnered 37 comments — most from hyperlocal sites standing up to be counted. Proof, I think, that when it comes to “hyperlocal cooties,” Jarvis need not worry. True, venture capitalists looking for a fast buck may be scared off. But the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well among community journalists. It may be hard, exhausting and only modestly remunerative, but the fierce tribe of practitioners shows no sign of giving up.