The folks behind voiceofsandiego.org, an online news source run as a nonprofit, firmly believe that they way they’ll succeed is by staying focused entirely on San Diego. Could their site and other “hyperlocal” Internet outlets fill the void caused by failing news organizations?
This CNN story does a decent job of reviewing the state of play.
Generally, the people who run hyperlocal Web sites say they are optimistic about the future of the news business. They say they won’t be able to replace all that’s being lost as large news companies crumble but say they are excited about the fact that they’re able to offer something new — at least for the moment.
The long-term economic viability of any of these sites remains an open question. And some critics, like Robert McChesney and John Nichols, say nonprofit news sites are not a solution to the economic problems of news organizations. Writing in The Nation, they call the fixes being tried so far “triage strategies.”
They are not cures; in fact, if there is a risk in them, it is that they might briefly discourage the needed reshaping of ownership models that are destined to fail.
Spot.us founder Dave Cohn, whom we’ve written about before, tells CNN that what journalism needs is “10,000 startups.” And that could easily happen if many of the journalists now out of work decide to try their hand at an Internet news site. According to Paper Cuts, a blog that tracks newspaper layoffs, almost 25,000 print journalists have lost their jobs since the beginning of 2008, not counting job losses on the broadcast side. Sobering, isn’t it?