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This week, Rob Curley (digital maven and massive bright spot to the news industry) launched LoudounExtra.com – the Washington Post’s (WaPo) new hyperlocal web site covering Loudoun County (LoCo) in northern Virginia. Curley’s the guy behind the Naples News site down in Florida where he went nuts building out massive databases into usable web content.
There are a lot of questions – mainly, does his hyperlocal franchise idea work in a busy, connected community? Naples was a largely affluent retiree community, LoCo residents may not have as much time to spend on the site. Can it work?
My big question is can the reporting (written and visual) quality match that of the WaPo? And does it need to? On today’s site there’s a photo gallery of a guy who’s ready for the county fair demolition derby. Should the quality of photos be sacrificed in the name of getting more stuff out there? Will the readers even care? (Side note: I was teaching a workshop for high school newspaper and yearbook advisors on Thursday and one of the things I brought up was the decline in visual literacy over the last 20 years. But that’s a post for another day.)
Hyperlocal is one of the answers – and it’s a darned good one. Keep an eye on it and let’s see how it does in the Washington area.