Who would've predicted - but it's coming I tell ya - globalization begets an age of place. Hyperlocal H20Town blogger Lisa Williams has made a 1000 place blog bet with PressThink's Jay Rosen. Said some naysayer: "Lisa Williams is special. There are so few of her that hyperlocal will never take off.”
To that comment may I just say: BWAHAHAHAA! I can only guess the doubter a Tom Sawyer protege attempting to kickstart a hyperlocal media movement with an old fasioned double-dog "I betchya can't do it" schoolyard dare.
(See also: Slate's Jack Shafer on How the New York Times Makes Local Papers Dumber. Uh huh.)
Here in San Fran we've seen a quiet rise in the microdailies. First the new Examiner, reduced to "compact" (tabloid) layout, distributed sans charge in subway stop-dotting newsracks; cluttering up the driveways of the tony addresses admired by advertisers everywhere.
Next we see a neighborhood newswire, published by public power activist Steve Moss. Inspired by a study showing a direct correlation between the trust readers had in a publication and the proximity of its focus, Moss created the wire service to be used by niche neighborhood publishers. Place begets trust, he concluded, and the neighborhood newswire was born.
Then the publishers of the East Bay Daily News set up shop here at www.sfdaily.net. Noticing an untapped lower-tier advertising market, they wisely seized what they saw as an opportunity. And this 16-page Monday thru Friday paper did something really evil that kept me coming back for more: they introduced that bloody timesucker of a puzzle, the Sadoku. They publish two - one sinfully easy, the other deceptively difficult - per day. (Bastards.)
But wait - just yesterday, The Marina Times tossed their August issue, expanded to 16 pages (from 10), to my doorstep. The publishers must be catching onto a reader loyalty hook: they premiered the Godzilla Sadoku - that's right, fill in digits 1 through 9 and letters A through F in every square, row and column. Oh and there's some good local stories to boot.
Time-vaccuum puzzles aside, local media rags represent just about every neighborhood (the Potrero View, Sunset Beacon, Richmond Dispatch, Noe Valley Voice) and niche demographic (El Tecolote, The Haight Beat, Bay Area Business Woman) you could encounter in this city. And unless my eyes are deceiving me, the smaller papers are getting fatter, and their coverage is getting better. Now why is that?