Hyperlocal Social Site EveryBlock Re-launches in Chicago

January 24, 2014

9:00 am

Last February, neighborhood discussion site EveryBlock shut down, leaving Chicagoans without their source of daily hyperlocal news. But yesterday, Comcast re-launched the site, returning the reigns of information gathering and dissemination back to the Chicago neighborhoods that can tell their stories best.

The resurrection came exactly six years after Everyblock’s original launch, back when the hyperlocal trend was comfortably situated in its heyday. However, financial losses prompted Comcast to put a “hiatus” on the block-by-block news site. Now that the site is back, EveryBlock expects to be teeming with local political chit-chat, rumors of upcoming restaurants and shops, local crime, and more.

Financial issues aside, hyperlocal sites definitely serve an otherwise unmet need. As the Internet increasingly enables us to build relationships with anyone, anywhere, sites like EveryBlock aim to build community right in our backyards. The platform provides a meeting space for neighbors to discuss what’s happening in their own communities, hopefully getting to know each other along the way.

And often, major news channels look over some of the stories that matter most to us. After all, one of the factors that makes news newsworthy is proximity; hyperlocal issues naturally matter most to the communities that are directly affected by them.

A novel idea just a few years ago, hyperlocality is a well-understood concept today. But, is publishing such focused content on a regular basis in so many markets sustainable? One of the most popular hyperlocal platform, Patch, was just sold by AOL. Technology investment firm Hale global is taking Patch — including its 900 local websites — off AOL’s hands after it failed to live up to web traffic and ad sales expectations.

Now the question is, will Comcast be able to successfully scale a local digital media business when AOL could not? EveryBlock will be rolled out to additional U.S. markets eventually, but for now, it’s keeping its hyperlocal focus on Chicago.

Tech Cocktail has followed EveryBlock and its founder, Adrian Holovaty, since its first launch, and through its evolution as a company. It will be interesting to watch how this next chapter plays out for EveryBlock.

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Meg Rayford is a communications consultant based in Northern Virginia. She previously spent two years as the Director of Public Relations for a nonprofit startup, where she learned a lot about providing clean water for impoverished countries, even within the confines of a bootstrapped startup. She is the editor of Tech Cocktail, and she develops media strategies for companies in Washington, DC and Virginia. You can read her most recent work in the marketing chapter of the upcoming book, "Social Innovation and Impact in Nonprofit Leadership," which will be published in Spring 2014 by Springer Publishing. Follow her @megkrayford.

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