Wicked Local Somerville reports: Drunk man yells at Somerville cops.
AOL's Patch hyperlocal network is advertising jobs for editors of new sites in Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Charlestown and the South End, as well as all of Boston, according to postings on the AOL corporate site.
The incursion is a full scale attack on, well, almost nobody, since boston.com has yet to set up a single Your Town hyperlocal site in the city it's named for. The South End News does have a longstanding site, unlike the Back Bay Courant, which doesn't get this InterWebs thing.
Patch, AOL's attempt at a national network of community sites, recently went live in Needham, giving that town's online news consumers three different places to read about Peter Smulowitz and the guy charged with trying to kill his young child - whom Wicked Local says is a girl, Boston.com's Your Town says is a boy and Patch says is a child.
All three sites are very similar in what they seem to be doing: News, sports, calendar listings, information about the town (Patch helpfully notes which officials are "important officials"). In other words: Recreating a traditional weekly community newspaper, from back in the day when stuff like that was called "local" insteady of "hyperlocal." Wicked Local and Your Town have more depth at this point, having been around longer, and their writing is a lot more polished. Wicked Local is bloggier, Patch makes its employees volunteer in the town and is encouraging local folks to generate some user content (i.e., write for free), Your Town links to stuff on other sites (and has what appears to be dead forums - the most recent post was from almost two months ago).
Ultimately, of course, the question is whether even a well off town like Needham can support three full-time Web sites - are there enough advertisers who want to reach those 30,000 people?
If you live in Needham, how do you get your local news these days?
Howard Owens, no longer GateHouse Media's online strategist, explains why GateHouse felt it had to sue the Times over boston.com's Your Town sites.
GateHouse Media honcho Kirk Davis stops just short of threatening a lawsuit, but tells Boston Daily he'll be watching the Globe's impending Mega-micro-hyperlocal Newton site with two eagle eyes, to make sure boston.com doesn't try to stomp on his Wicked Local territory. He even gets off a good crack about the 800-pound gorilla now being more like a 200-pound gorilla, which is kind of funny in an ironic sort of way, coming from a guy whose own employer's stock is now worth like negative 3 cents a share, but whatever.
And here I sit, wondering if the issue is simply one of scale. I link to and quote from Wicked Local sites all the time. While my motives are pure as the driven snow, (of course!), I do make money from this site. But I'm no financial threat to GateHouse, whereas the Globe, yeah, a bit of a different issue. Still, Google makes money from putting ads next to GateHouse content on its pages, too.
Dan Kennedy analyzes the brewing battle in more detail.
After yesterday's shooting/standoff up the street from us, here's my new news hierarchy:
First, check Channel 4 and Wicked Local (the latter is where I first read about the shootings). Chances are, they'll have the news first (however, Wicked Local only covers Roslindale, West Roxbury and Allston/Brighton).
The next day, check the Herald. They'll likely have photos and a lot of details (in this case, the more seriously injured person's name - which the paper got from his grandmother - and details about the SWAT team being called in).