Big media investment into hyperlocal media properties continues with CNN’s partial investment in Outside.in as reported at Paid Content.org. CNN likely plans to leverage Outside.in content to develop local aggregated news for CNN Local editions. My first thought is why does CNN need a content aggregation service when they can do essentially the same thing with local media sources themselves? If it’s for aggregation expediency, what they need is a content management system.
Look at another other big media play into hyperlocal – MSNBC’s August 2009 purchase of Every Block. So far, the most prolific content aggregated by the small Every Block team of 6+ people are police calls. Most are public civic data. The content is impersonal.
BIG MEDIA’S NEED TO SCALE VS. LOCAL MEDIA’S NEED TO ENGAGE COMMUNITY
Big media’s play into hyperlocal only scales if the data aggregation and curation of news sources can be automated from a back office team based in one office building. The weakness in this virtual local news strategy is the impersonality of syndicated content. The key to connecting with the community audience is on-the-ground staffing, who will also support the marketing push and civic outreach.
Huffington Post is filling the void for coordinating local journalist outreach by tapping TV producer Willow Bay as Senior Editor for their new LA edition . Examiner.com recruits local writers. Big media will eventually realize they need to create a lot of local networks, and not rely on a backroom tech operation, to become viable local media. The one-size-fits-all model for templating local news may potentially position them as Media McDonalds. Existing local media in every city now have a window of opportunity to fortify their brand in the face of the potential onslaught of big media’s local plays.