Towards a definition of "hyperlocal" news... to be determined

With the unraveling of TBD.com came a camp of criticism from all sides. Most interesting -- to me -- was the label the site was branded: hyperlocal. Is a news organisation that covers the Washington D.C. metro area really hyperlocal?

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  1. The new news organisation launched by Allbritton Communications in 2010 was "to be determined". So much so, the website became TBD.com. Now that has all changed. Staffing cuts are imminent, which has led to a flurry of criticism. (See a few of the posts below.)
  2. The most interesting thing to come out of this from my point of view is this idea that the demise of TBD.com is a harbinger of what faces all "hyperlocal" news organisations. But can a website that covers the Washington DC metro area really be considered hyperlocal?
  3. Why do I care so much about the definition of hyperlocal news? Well, I'm in the midst of a PhD looking at the people who make hyperlocal news. I'm calling them "hyperlocalists". So reaching a working definition is sort of something I need to figure out.
  4. As much as I hate to see a concept like TBD fail, I couldn't be more delighted at the debate raised this afternoon on Twitter:
  5. This Twitter debate is but one sample of a debate over what constitutes "hyperlocal". In the academic world of journal articles and conference papers, David Kurpius, Emily Metzgar and Karen Rowley pose this definition:

    "Hyperlocal media operations are geographically-based, community-oriented, original-news-reporting organizations indigenous to the web and intended to fill perceived gaps in coverage of an issue or region and to promote civic engagement."

    See the abstract of the paper below:
  6. I think TBD fits this very loose definition. And when you read through the six sites the threesome look at -- Voice of San Diego, The Forum, MinnPost, ChiTown Daily News, New West, and RVA News -- it becomes clear how TBD can slot into this definition of hyperlocal.

    Is it though? And is this why its failure to live up to expectations has brought on a raft of criticism for the future of other "hyperlocal" news sites?
  7. On the other side of the pond, Philip John has weighed in on the word that some love and others loath.
  8. Hyperlocal probably is not the best word, but it is one word that is commonly used to describe the media I'm researching. So I'm curious, what do you think hyperlocal means?
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