The hyperlocal news wave is continuing to grow in popularity, as the Postcode Gazette has announced its plans to launch a new hyperlocal news initiative. Hold The Front Page reported that the pilot project started in Sheffield yesterday. Eventually. the Postcode Gazette hopes to serve local news on a nationwide scale.
To differentiate itself from previously failed initiatives, such as Guardian Local, the project delivers "street-level" news. The project aims to have one local publisher for about every 5,000 people. The figure should amount to a few reporters covering a town rather than assigning one person, as does Patch, AOL's network of hyperlocal blogs. Much of Patch's criticism derives from the site's dependence on a single journalist to cover each small town. Business Insider reported that some have claimed to be overworked, as the journalists are dependent on freelancers, edit their own material, and run the site individually.
The other distinguishing factor of the Postcode Gazette's news project is its reliance on mobile phones to diffuse information. It takes advantage of mobile phone's GPS capabilities to deliver news, business promotions, and events based on users' current location. Android and iPhone apps are "key" to the project.
The managing director Chris McCormack explained, "I think we differ from so-called hyperlocal efforts from mainstream publishers in our ambition both in the level of news we cover, and our focus on mobile."
Revenue streams will presumably come from local businesses, which McCormack believes "have never really had anywhere to advertise before". McCormack plans on charging £1 to target all users within 1 mile of a business per day.
His claim that local businesses have nowhere else to advertise before may not be entirely accurate, as Groupon and Living Social offer opportunities for local businesses to promote deals and attract new customers through a daily email system. McCormack's advertising model is certainly cheaper, but not necessarily more attractive to a local business.
As the hyperlocal news boom continues, the Postcode Gazette's focus on mobile technology may be its best bet. The Gazette's venture into local news coincides with reports of mobile phones as an increasingly popular source for news, and McCormack is optimistic about the possibilities. Perhaps the Postcode Gazette will prove that hyperlocal news is best delivered in your pocket.
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