Oregon Paper Investing In Hyperlocal Strategy

By: E&P Staff

Peter Bhatia | The Oregonian  

One of the trendy terms in journalism these days is “hyperlocal.” It means local news at the community level, and, potentially, even at the neighborhood level. Local news has always been the lifeblood of this and most every newspaper. Building hyperlocal, largely on the Web, is seen as a content strategy for newspapers that can help secure a successful future.

We’re committed to expanding our hyperlocal operations in the months ahead. There already are hyperlocal pages for 17 metro-area communities on our Web partner OregonLive.com (go to oregonlive.com/local and click on a specific town) and our plans for 2011 include adding more content to these hyperlocal pages and creating more of them. In addition to news from The Oregonian, these pages allow anyone to post news, information and event items (see the public blogs in the right column of each town’s page). They create room for a depth and breadth of community-level news that we never have had room for in the paper.

These online pages also drive content to our six weekly print Community News sections in the paper on Saturday. The print sections combine several neighboring communities into one section and include items posted to the community public blogs.

But there’s a new twist to hyperlocal that has us excited.

Last month, “J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism” at American University in Washington, D.C., announced that The Oregonian would receive a $50,000, one-year grant as part of its Networked Journalism pilot project to build partnerships with not-connected-to-the-paper hyperlocal news sites. The money includes funds to support a community coordinator position in our newsroom to recruit and coordinate with partner sites and seed money to help those sites get off the ground and sustain their content.

We are looking now for potential partner sites whose work we would link to from OregonLive and who would link back to us. The purpose of the J-Lab grant is to build relationships between established media and the startups the Internet has enabled and to “amplify” the work of those community websites. We’re seeking news-driven partners who are strongly committed to their communities and who offer a level of local and neighborhood detail our staff (spread all across the metro area and state, and covering everything from City Hall to the Trail Blazers) cannot get to.

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