Cover Story: Homegrown Headlines
In an industry dominated by big name publishers, much of today's media is focused around the happenings in big cities. Locations such as New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago receive much more national and regional coverage than smaller communities. And that is not necessarily a bad thing: it makes sense that metropolitan cities would be covered more as they have larger markets and populations. But what about the smaller communities? How do the smaller cities, towns, boroughs and neighborhoods receive media coverage, outside of local newspapers? That's where hyperlocal publications come in.
Hyperlocal publications are online or print publications that are dedicated to the culture, news and events of a specific community. Dan Kennedy, assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University and media commentator for Huffington Post and Nieman Journalism Lab, describes The Batavian and the New Haven Independent, two sites that he has followed, as hyperlocal because they focus virtually all of their coverage and content on a carefully targeted area.
"The Independent covers a medium-size city of 120,000, which is pretty big for 'hyperlocal,'" Kennedy says. "But if news takes place over the border in, say, Hamden, the Independent isn't going to cover it unless there's some clear New Haven connection. So that's part of what goes into being hyperlocal.
"Likewise, The Batavian covers Genesee County in western New York, which has 60,000 residents," he continues. "Its competition, The Daily News of Batavia, covers three counties. But also, as in the case of New Haven, The Batavian won't cover anything outside of Genesee County whereas The Daily News includes non-local material from wire services." That consistent community devotion is something that wide-range publications cannot offer.
Tracy Ryder is the president, CEO and co-founder of Edible Communities, the nation's largest periodical publisher dedicated to local food movements. With 81 titles across North America, Edible Communities prides itself on its ability to devote all of its editorial pages to local communities. "The reach each of them has into the food artisans, farmers, and all other linchpins of the local foods movement is pretty incredible," Ryder says. "That is the number one best aspect of hyperlocal publishing."