'Miami Herald' to Launch Hyperlocal Web Network

By: Joe Strupp The Miami Herald is the latest metro daily to join the hyper-local Web world, with plans to start a network of online sites focused on five of its communities before the end of 2009.

Rick Hirsch, senior editor/multimedia, says the five Web sites will be run by local residents or organizations that range from a former Herald reporter to a community foundation. "We've created a platform through which we can give a partner control over a neighborhood section," he said. "They can use our content management system and publish photos, stories, have community forums and have control over advertising inventory. And they keep what they sell."

Hirsch said the network could conceivably grow to some 150 community sites, all within the Herald circulation area. "It is a venue and a structure so that there can be some content sharing," he added. "The partners can share content and use our content if the want."

The five initial sites, the communities they cover and the partners for each are as follows:

1. South Miami and Pinecrest - Community Newspapers Inc., a local chain of weeklies.
2. Miami Springs, Virginia Gardens and Medley - Curtis Publishing, a local chain of weeklies.
3. West Kendall - former Herald reporter and editor Ana Acle-Menendez.
4. Key Biscayne - An unidentified former Herald reporter.
5. Coral Gables - Coral Gables Community Foundation.

Each partner will be responsible for posting content on their specific site, Hirsch said, adding that each also will be able to sell advertising. "We also have some limited ad positions that we can sell," Hirsch states. "So we have the ability to make some money."

Herald Editor Anders Gyllenhaal said the sites, with the initial title of Community News Network, are another way for the paper to offer local coverage in cost-cutting times. "We provide the Web framework and the forum and they provide the news and the advertising," he explained. "We hope to fill in our whole territory, but this starts with some small slices of it."

Gyllenhaal also noted that the sites are set up to offer unique design and content for each area. "Each site can be different and developed in their own way," he said. "It will be a lot of things happening at the community neighborhood level that don't make it into the paper."


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