From an excellent overview article by Mark Glaser :
"Hyperlocal news is the information relevant to small communities or neighborhoods that has been overlooked by traditional news outlets. Thanks to cheap self-publishing and communication online, independent hyper-local news sites have sprung up to serve these communities, while traditional media has tried their own initiatives to cover what they’ve missed. In some cases, hyper-local sites let anyone submit stories, photos or videos of the community, with varying degrees of moderation and filtering. Pioneers such as Northwest Voice in Bakersfield, Calif., and YourHub, which started in Denver, actually reverse publish select material from their websites in print publications. Both of them are run by mainstream newspaper publishers.
The motivation for starting independent hyper-local sites is often to tell the previously untold stories of communities, while also bringing like-minded people together online. Mainstream news outlets that have created hyper-local sites are trying to engage their readers, while also creating a place for smaller, niche advertisers who want to reach a highly geographically targeted audience.
The business models for hyper-local news sites are still evolving, and some independent sites are run as labors of love by their publishers and communities. Venture-funded startups Backfence and Bayosphere tried and failed to make a business out of creating a series of hyper-local sites, while Pegasus News was recently bought by Fisher Communications." (http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2007/12/digging_deeperyour_guide_to_hy.html)
From an overview article in MediaShift (excerpts). There's much more in the original:
"The following is a list of some of the ways that traditional and independent media have gathered hyper-local news.
Self-moderated citizen media
Perhaps the least work-intensive approach to a hyper-local news site is simply allowing people to post their stories with minimal moderation.
Examples: Philly Future
Reverse publishing citizen media in print
Many sites ask people to tell the stories of their community, either with text, photos or videos. But if the site is associated with a traditional news outlet — most likely a local newspaper — there are usually more stringent rules for moderation. Eventually the best of the online content is reverse published into a regular print publication.
Examples: Northwest Voice
Involved proprietors on blogs
Rather than opening up the editorial to citizens, many place-specific blogs are written by people who review local happenings with a unique voice.
These sites include very few original stories, and simply aggregate and link to stories found on other news outlets or blogs for that locality.
Sometimes a map — rather than a news article or commentary — can give people a better idea of what’s going on in their neighborhood at a quick glance.
A few traditional news organizations are experimenting with having their reporters go out as “one-man bands” who write up quick reports, take photographs or video and file them from the road.
Examples: Reuters Mobile Journalism
Email lists and online forums
Perhaps the most overlooked way that communities can stay in touch and share news is through email lists and online forums.
Examples: Front Porch Forums (http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2007/12/digging_deeperyour_guide_to_hy.html)
- What about their business models?