WaPo Tries Hyperlocalism, Aware Of The Pitfalls

The Washington Post is attempting to boost its metropolitan coverage, and more importantly, its readership, with a new hyperlocal adjunct, called LoudounExtra.com. While leaving the major news to the flagship, LoudounExtra will offer more neighborhood news, including police blotter items, church schedules and high school sporting events, as well as restaurant hours and menus, as explained in the WaPo coverage. The company has been working on the site for the past six months with recent staff addition Rob Curley, who has been successful at creating hyperlocal sites in other markets, as co-developer.

The decision to tap into hyperlocalism was driven by the growth of its online readership, amid declining circulation and revenues for the print edition. WaPo’s average daily circulation has fallen from its high of 832,232 in 1993 to 663,900 now. Q1 print ad revenue at the paper dropped 16 percent compared to the same period a year before. And while manynewspapers have begun tapping into hyperlocal news, results are mixed. One apparent success offered as an example is MediaNews Group. The owner of The Denver Post, among other newspapers, created virtual town square Your Hub for its papers and it claims that the online feature has added significant revenue over the past year. At the other end of the spectrum, as we recently reported, citizen journalism company Backfence shuttered all of its 13 hyperlocal sites after two years in business, having failed to attract enough ad revenue to keep going.