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American University’s J-Lab, which is funded by The Knight Foundation, has announced new grants for eight hyperlocal sites as part of its New Voices competition. All of the sites are focused on geographic communities, with many of them appearing to be run by former newspaper journalists.

The awards consist of $17,000 in the first year, and $8,000 in matching support in the second year. “What we can learn from the 48 New Voices community news experiments is all the more important in light of newspaper closings across the country,“ said Gary Kebbel, Knight’s journalism program officer, and former head, AOL News.

The 2009 New Voices grantees include; Oakland Local; Backyard News; Maryland School Information Mapping (M-SIM); Intersections –The South Los Angeles Reporting Project; The Austin Bulldog; New Era Media; and The Villager, News and Notes from Coconut Grove West.

Sustainability is something that is touched on by some of the entrants. GrosspointeToday, for instance, has made a deal with The Little Blue Book, a 35 year old community directory, to sell advertising for it. The Little Blue Blook will receive a 30 percent commission for all ads that appear on the site.

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