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relating to a very specific and often small community or geographical area
'While newspapers have been decimated by the economics transforming today's media industry, Web sites that report news and deliver other content at the neighborhood, or hyperlocal, level, are bursting with life, with many of them becoming sought-after targets by big media and big tech companies.'The Deal 5th January 2010
'It won't tell us much about the catastrophe in Haiti, but when a store closes on Lincoln Avenue a hyperlocal Web site can be all over it. As far as viable new media models go, for the time being hyperlocalism might be the best one we've got.'Chicago Reader 14th January 2010
Plans to build a supermarket on a field near your village, a burst water main at the end of your road, a new childcare initiative at your local school … They may not be the most exciting things to read about, but they have a good chance of attracting your attention because, unlike a stock market crash, political scandal or natural disaster across the other side of the globe, they have a direct effect on you and your immediate surroundings. This is the philosophy underpinning the growing interest in hyperlocal news.
unlike mainstream media, hyperlocal news covers topics of more restricted interest, such as street repairs or health inspection results for a nearby restaurant
The adjective hyperlocal describes journalism which focuses on a very specific, local area. In the UK, local news usually relates to a particular town, or often a wider geographical location such as a county. Hyperlocal news is much narrower, relating to a suburb or even a particular group of streets. Unlike the mainstream media, which conventionally looks at issues of regional, national and global concern, hyperlocal news covers topics of more restricted interest, such as street repairs or health inspection results for a nearby restaurant. Websites that focus on hyperlocal news, events and issues are sometimes described as place blogs. They often double as an information service, giving local shops and businesses a cheap and effective advertising platform.
Hyperlocal news is often gathered by amateurs rather than professionals. Increased use of digital media devices (cameras, mobile phones, hand-held computers, etc.) and information-sharing via the Internet (e.g. blog posts, social networking) has given us the concept of citizen journalism, news reported by ordinary people on the scene rather than professional reporters. Hyperlocal papers and websites therefore often employ a small number of professionals, relying mainly on content provided by readers.
Whilst newspaper sales are under huge threat from rival media, hyperlocal websites are booming, many becoming targeted for acquisition by big media companies such as the US's MSNBC.
The term hyperlocal has been used in journalistic circles since the late '80s, but with the changing face of journalism and the development of online media, has now begun to filter into more mainstream use.
The word is, of course, formed from affixation of the adjective local with prefix hyper- meaning 'more than usual or normal'. Other new words formed using hyper- in recent years include hyperparenting (being an overzealous parent who has an excessive involvement in all aspects of a child's life) and hyperpower (a nation that has significantly greater political, economic or military power than any other nation).
Read last week's BuzzWord. Oversharing.
This article was first published on 17th February 2010.
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