The Google County Times: The Future of Local News?

Google has hatched a plan to boost the visibility of its existing local news product, and in the process is testing a whole new way to get people to pay attention to the news that is geographically most relevant to them.

Google is testing a local news “card” in its Google Now service, which is built into all new Android smartphones and is available on the iPhone through Google’s Search app. Google Now is a logical vehicle for local news because one of its primary functions is knowing where you are and providing information that is “contextually relevant" to you, as specified by your interests, the time of day, and your location.

This beta test has not been previously disclosed, and is currently being carried out solely within Google itself, but its existence was revealed to me last week in an interview with Johanna Wright, vice president of search and assist at Google.

Read more. [Image: Darryl Dyck/AP]

Neighborhoodr launches in 25 cities!

We are now available in the following cities:

Austin
Baltimore
Boston
Charlotte
Chicago
Columbus
Dallas
Denver
Detroit
El Paso
Fort Worth
Houston
Indianapolis
Jacksonville
Los Angeles
Memphis
Nashville
New York
Philadelphia
Phoenix
San Antonio
San Diego
San Francisco
San Jose
Seattle

Over time, cities will have their individual neighborhoods represented, as the demand for that neighborhood presents itself. Tell us what’s happening in your neighborhood by clicking one of the links at the top of each city page. If we receive or see enough content from any particular neighborhood, we’ll launch a neighborhood page devoted to that hood.

I’m extremely excited to see Neighborhoodr spread outside of the 60+ neighborhoods we cover in New York City and look forward to discovering more about the neighborhoods that you live in.

Nick Alexopulos, a graduate student (and PR professional) at the University of Maryland put together a short case study about Neighborhoodr for his Entrepreneurial Journalism class.

It’s a really excellent overview of our massive growth over the last year since our launch and goes into a bit about the overall hyperlocal space.

Check it out at the link above.

This is not a shocker…lesson to be learned…you can’t fake authenticity, especially with local news coverage…

At one time, AOL had hoped to reach 1,000 Patch sites by the end of 2011. But now comes word that Patch is slightly scaling back its efforts in some markets, fueling speculation inside the hyper-local news organization that Tim Armstrong’s big local bet was a bit too ambitious.

Politicians in Rajasthan speak about the growing trend in Indian newspapers to offer politicians favorable coverage for money. “A local paper offered me a package,” said a Rajasthan lawmaker. If he paid the amount of money that particular newspaper was demanding, he would get favorable coverage. If he declined to pay, the newspaper would slander him in its pages.
— 

Vinay Sitapati, The New York Times. Hindi Paper Finds Success Going Hyperlocal.

FJP: Sketchy business model of its competitors aside, this is a fascinating profile of the Patrika newspaper group in India.

Rajasthan Patrika, which is printed in 33 main and 250 local editions has a readership of 14.6 million steadily grown since 1956 when its founder started the paper with a $8.30 loan. Yes, eight dollars and 30 cents.

Its growth has been attributed, in part, to focusing on the hyperlocal and going where other publishers have no reporters.

Rajasthan Patrika has not been accused of participating in the pay scheme indicated in the quote above.

Some lessons for media entrepreneurs
  • Hyperlocal is a great proving ground for a range of niche-related media ideas. See link:
  • @streetfightmag:What are mechanics of scaling networks? @wwebs, @carlltucker, @rickeblair, @seattlecowan discuss at http://streetfightmag.com/conference-2011/
Infrastructure of Love

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A fantastic guest blog post by Peter Kageyama, the author of “For the Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places”, appeared on infrastructurist.com last month. In it, Peter explains the importance of the ‘infrastructure of love’.

When you love something, it flourishes. It’s true – children, plants, pets and even objects all thrive when someone loves them. Cities, argues Peter, are no different.

Although research by The Gallup Soul of the Community found strong correlations between peoples’ emotional attachment to the communities they lived in and higher levels of GDP, there is still a distinct lack of investment in city’s emotional infrastructure. As a result, people do not feel connected to their cities and it shows – cities become disposable.

Cities need that emotional connection with its citizens, and for city authorities, it’s not difficult to create. Small touches such as a dog park and outdoor festivals can make a huge difference. For example, the street parties for the British Royal Wedding in April were easy to run for authorities and created intense feelings of community and ‘London love’ amongst revellers.

There is a large opportunity for brands to support the emotional infrastructure of cities. To help build loyalty and passion for a city amongst it’s inhabitants and to hope that some of that passion rubs off on them. C8 Thought Leader Henry Hemming recently discussed the meaning of community in today’s changing world, the report is available here. An interesting case study is a sustainability project in Cleveland – Reimagining Cleveland. A program that provides funds to neighbourhood groups, churches, schools and individuals returning land to productive use.

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