Most news publishers focus on news that is quite important to a large audience, but Everyblock focuses on the news which is very important to a small audience. As founder Adrian Holovaty explained at WAN-IFRA's Summer University in Paris, Everyblock's goal is to cover news on the smallest scale: a neighborhood block.
Holovaty started the as a side project to inform Chicagoans of crime activity. After receiving a grant from the Knight Foundation in 2007, Everyblock took off. It now covers 16 U.S cities.
'People's definitions of neighbourhoods are very personal,' said Holovaty, so Everyblock allows users to identify their own, by drawing on a map.
After users select their area or neighborhood, a news feed will appear. The news will include crime data, media mentions, real estate listings, new businesses and photos from Flickr. Users can follow local businesses and neighbors. Everyblock has partnerships with locally-targeted businesses like Groupon, Yelp, Valpack, Meetup and Teachstreet.
Having been acquired by msnbc.com in 2009, Everyblock started to change its goal from just informing its users, to striving to make the neighborhood a better place. A redesign in March 2011 placed a new emphasis on this, and the rate of growth in user numbers went up 10 times after this relaunch.
As part of its mission to make Everyblock essential for people living in specific neighborhoods, it now seeks to encourage online interaction resulting in real-world conversation and reaction. The company and hired a community manager to lead the effort to guide positive conversations, trying to encourage a friendly, neighborhood atmosphere.
Everyblock markets itself by encouraging users to add comments, and the top-rated users can enter a contest to win $1000 for a neighborhood party. Members can click on the "thanks" button to encourage close-knit, positive interactions and there are five "neighborhood honors" levels that can be achieved with increased activity.