We’ve heard it over and over again. Hyperlocal news has a future in journalism. And we should work toward developing sustainable business models around this format. Yet Churchill and Ubois’ study on local news production and consumption has me doing a double take. Their research seems to uncover a bit of a disconnect between those who make the news and those who read it. I believe the phrase they used in their study was “parochial,” when describing readers’ perception of hyperlocal. Well, that’s not good.
There’s also the question of what actually constitutes local. Again, Churchill and Ubois show that for a lot of people, local doesn’t mean the neighborhood they live in. But something else entirely. Local could mean the other side of town. Or simply a group of people who share the same interests and beliefs. There’s spatial locality, but also locality that is intellectual and emotional.
This is not counter intuitive. In fact, it makes a good bit of sense. But it adds a layer of complexity for someone like myself, who hopes to build an ad network for “local” publications in Brooklyn.