The Washington Post announced today they are pulling the plug on their hyperlocal news site LoudounExtra.com, a local news aggregator that gathers links to articles and blogs for the Washington Metropolitan Area county. The site will be shut down in September, with content moving to the Washington Post Web site.
Said Kris Coratti, the Post’s director of communications:
While the Washington Post remains dedicated to maintaining a high level of coverage of the counties surrounding Washington, D.C., we found that our experiment with LoudounExtra.com as a separate site was not a sustainable model.
The decision was revealed a day after MSNBC acquired a similar site, EveryBlock, which provides local news for 15 US cities, and two months after AOL purchased the hyperlocal news site Patch for $7 million.
These types of Web sites have been increasing their online presence for a decade with varied success, according to an April New York Times article. The focus on local news seemed to be a promising venture to lure advertisers to the web. And because the sites accumulate articles from local blogs, they save costs on traditional journalism.
But like LoudounExtra, many sites are still having trouble bringing in enough revenue. In the Times article, hyperlocal site analyst Greg Sterling attributed the advertising crunch to a small online audience. And though reaching such a specific viewership is the goal for these sites, Sterling said this may be one of the reasons these sites are struggling:
Advertisers want that kind of targeting, but they also want to reach more people, so there’s a paradox.
But when local newspapers, which supply many of their articles to these sites, continue to fold, the hyperlocal news sites seem to be facing their own conundrum.
Unless all the sites disappear before the papers do. At least when both local news channels disappear, conflicted advertisers won’t have to worry about reaching their target audience anymore.