Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hyperlocal News - Personalized News For You

With online services like Animotto, Flickr, Blogger and Twitter almost anybody can be a video producer, photographer, journalist or news reporter- no degrees or formal training required. With these new mediums the average person can create and distribute their content with virtually no barriers to entry. This major shift gave rise to terms like hyperlocal and citizen journalism

Hyperlocal is relevant

Hyperlocal news is news relevant to small communities. Think a modern neighborhood flyer or newsprint where anybody can submit content such as videos, pictures, articles or even just their opinions and comments. In the 90s as the internet spread widely, forums and blogs started popping out all over the web to cater to different communities be it virtual or physical ones. 
The big news companies took notice of this shift and started providing their own mediums for hyperlocal. These include services like CNN's iReport or The Weather Channel's photo submission. What about the newspapers? how are they coping with these changes and in an uncertain economy?  

Once upon a time printed newspapers were extremely popular and they utilized techniques today's websites still use to promote themselves, increase traffic, and keep users on page longer. Sounds familiar? yes these are the same goals every person involved in SEO wants to achieve. Why else do you think that comic strip or crossword puzzle was printed in your favorite newspaper?

Hyperlocal feeds our thirst for news

Newspapers are dying, but people still want news. Our thirst for information has not decreased, if anything it increased beyond belief. The change is, people want to choose what news they want. I never read the stock pages and charts in a printed paper; I rarely read the finance paper and if I do its limited to the front page - so why should it be delivered to me? 
The case for hyperlocal news is just getting stronger so perhaps these major newspapers will break off into smaller hyperlocal news outlets. Maybe a visit to NYTimes.com will render a page like NYTimes.com/Jersey? This is if they wake up and stop being in denial. 

Hyperlocal is context aware, and of course location aware

Location is a key component for personalization and its possibly the easiest piece of information one can extract from their visitors and deliver personalized content. With hyperlocal news it makes complete sense to me to present it on a map instead of a traditional newspaper-ish view. And with the popularity of mobile devices this strengthens the reasons for a hyperlocal news map. Consider this, you are stuck on a highway and pick up your iPhone to turn on this hyperlocal news map. You get to see where you are right now and what stories are going on around you. The exit is coming up and you are considering escape, but your hyperlocal news map is reporting that a group of chimps have escaped the local zoo and are sitting on the highway barrier 'entertaining' the traffic which is causing all the delay. Now that is something that you don't see on a regular day on the highway, maybe you won't get off that exit after all?

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