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Jeff Jarvis’ HyperCamp on New Business Models for News

By: 12 November 2009

A “hypercamp” dedicated to New Business Models for News was held yesterday in New York City by The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, led by Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine. We weren’t there — wrong coast — and nothing is on the site yet. But the free event had a strong lineup of speakers from all walks of hyperlocal; not only from community journalism, but just as importantly, from hyperlocal commerce.

Jarvis’ opening presentation has a very nice rundown of hyperlocal activities, journalism and commerce. In it, Jarvis suggests there are 10,000 hyperlocal blogs in the U.S., with  a thousand of those in Brooklyn alone. He also says that a community with 60,000 residents seems “optimal” for hyperlocal. Moreover, sites should realistically be seeing revenues of up to $200,000 a year from a wide variety of revenue opportunities, ranging from sponsorships to events to print products. He also lays out some useful business model assumptions in terms of staffing and tech costs, etc.

As for the event itself, Outside.in’s blog summed up one of the panels as a bilateral discussion between bloggers and publishers. “The bloggers said, ‘We want you to give us visibility and traffic. When we scoop a story that you like, we want you to put it on your site and give us the credit.’ The publishers agreed, saying they want the content, and in fact, they went so far as to claim, more than once, that without taking advantage of the great journalism happening on blogs, their businesses will fail. Everyone agreed on this point. The stumbling block was around the How.”

To us, the staging of the event was impressive. But don’t tell your broker to invest in hyperlocal just yet. We’re clearly at the stage in hyperlocal that we were with the spurt of the Internet in the early 1990s, when people talked about Internet users as a separate political class with more clout than either the Democrats or the Republicans. Basically, there wasn’t much perspective.

To be sure, the information about hyperlocal is now coming from all directions; a lot of it is ill-informed and emotional/sentimental. Still, there really are no models for real success. The potential, however, is clearly there. And besides, it’s where a lot of the fun is — especially for journalists looking for their next act. Summits like Jarvis’ hypercamp can only help.

At BIA/Kelsey, we’ve kept a close watch on hyperlocal and we’ll continue to study it closely. We certainly have a lot of key players that touch on hyperlocal at ILM:09 next month in L.A. — both in terms of community journalism and hyperlocal commerce (i.e., Yelp, Outside.in, Twitter, BargainBabeLA, MSNBC/Everyblock, NBC Local, Pegasus News, Citysearch, Village Voice Media and Facebook). Let’s figure this out together.



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