Hyperlocal Weeklies Won’t Survive If They Become Regional Weeklies



As a follow-up to our recent blog, Hyperlocal News Was Supposed to Thrive — But Now It’s Not. So What Happened?, we have a bit more to add.

The nonprofit Marblehead Current (briefly the Marblehead News), wrote about the situation facing many communities that have been serviced by weekly papers now owned by Gannett:

“The breaking point came earlier this year, when Gannett delivered the one-two punch moving nearly all the local staff reporters at its community weeklies to regional beats in February and then in March closing 19 weeklies and merging nine others into four…

“When Gannett decided to reassign its reporters to regional beats, it left those communities without local government watchdogs, while somewhat nonsensically offering content that well-established outlets were already producing, (Northeastern University journalism professor Dan) Kennedy noted.

The key implication for the future of hyperlocal media in Massachusetts in what Kennedy said is this: offering content that well-established outlets were already producing.

Regional weekly coverage can’t possibly compete with regional daily coverage offered by the Boston Globe or Boston Herald.

That’s going to be a continuing problem for Gannett and a continuing problem for communities and for organizations that need to reach hyperlocal readers.

You can read the Marblehead Current article here:

You can also read a Boston.com article that also looks at the evolving media landscape. The saving grace is that Kennedy is tracking independent local papers in Massachusetts that’s available here. These are not all new papers like the Current but are independent meaning not owned by Gannett and therefore more likely to focus on serving hyperlocal news.

The question is whether independents papers like the Marblehead Current can survive. We know that communities need these news outlets and that the Gannett weeklies had strong support from subscribers until they became regional and therefore duplicative. We hope the independents survive.

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