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Plans for 100 more hyperlocal websites unveiled

A group of hyperlocal websites is aiming to double in size over the next 12 months by launching up to 100 new community portals.

The Local People network was launched by Associated Northcliffe Digital last summer, focusing initially on Northcliffe Media’s existing stronghold in the South West.

Its original 23 sites have now grown to 100, with the group purposely launching new sites in areas such as London and the Home Counties outside of the ‘Northcliffe footprint.’

Now, with a new design unveiled last week, the network is set to reach 200 over the next 12 months as the roll-out of new sites continues.

The local people sites rely entirely on user-generated content and enable users to rate local tradesmen, pubs, restaurants and so on.

The network claims 332,000 monthly users, and these have generated more than 50,000 individual pieces of content.

Managing director Roland Bryan told HTFP: “We’ve now got our 100th live site which we’re quite happy about. We now have a plan in place which will see us take that to 200.

“We’ll look at an area and we’ll treat it exactly the same whether it’s a Northcliffe area or a non-Northcliffe area.

“We’ve got 50 sites in the South West and we are pretty happy with the number we have there now.

“We’ve also rolled out some sites in London and across the South East and Home Counties and that will be a continuing focus for us.”

Roland said the new site design would make it even easier for users to create local content, post reviews and so on.

New user-generated content will appear immediately at the centre of the homepage, giving the sites what Roland called a “more dynamic look and feel.”


OhDear (15/06/2010 08:54:29)
Oh dear indeed. What Northcliffe haven’t divulged on here is whether these sites have actually made any money… I strongly doubt it.
Take heed all journalists who enter here – this is the future for Northcliffe. Or they think it is, the fools.

Daz (15/06/2010 10:26:32)
According to an article on Paid Content,
Eight of the current 100 sites were profitable last month.

James (15/06/2010 10:59:38)
@Daz – Eight out of 100 websites made a profit last month. Thank God man, we’re saved. WE’RE SAVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is the kind of optimism, ahem sorry naivety, which will lead Northcliffe et al even further down the pan. When oh when oh when will people realise that UGC is cheap labour and it ain’t very good at the best of times????

Oldhackandproud (15/06/2010 11:31:50)
WELL, they are certainly not out to attract good journalists, are they? Or even anybody who wants to be paid the national mininum wage..!
They don’t ask for much in their ads…
“You will need to be able to inspire contributors, hunt out issues on the ground and both write and find local news of interest to the people of your town. You need to be computer-literate rather than a computer geek but a familiarity with social media will be an advantage.
Most importantly, you need to understand how and why people communicate with each other; understand where those conversations currently take place; and have the experience and enthusiasm for online media to encourage those conversations to take place on your localpeople site. It is also vital that you live in or very close to the town you will be covering, and are personally familiar with the events, issues and personalities in that town.
You will be engaged by the company to work on the website on a self-employed basis, giving you flexibility over when and where you work. The Community Publisher contract is for £550 per month including performance bonus.”
Gawd help you if your performance is a little below par or you fall ill…..

Confused (15/06/2010 11:56:28)
Perhaps the more important figure is how well used they are. 332,000 monthly unique users isn’t very high given the number of areas they cover. And the 50,000 pieces of content – how much of that has been produced by people not employed by Northcliffe? If you look on most of the sites, it is the paid member of staff uploading all the content, getting very little reaction from people who live in the area. This will result in low response for any advertiser brave enough to take advertising here. As for placing all new content in the centre of page giving it a ‘dynamic feel’ to me it just makes it look messy and confused. Newspaper websites may have some way to go, but as long as they don’t go in the same direction as localpeople, then there’s hope for us all yet.

Daz (15/06/2010 13:57:57)
I didn’t post the figure to make an opinion one way or another, just to give information to the first commenter.

steve (17/06/2010 14:32:43)
This is churnalism on the cheap.

R McGeddon (18/06/2010 09:51:39)
What these sites – and most of the other “hyper-local” sites – are not, is journalism – its the reposting of press releases in the main, which is what a lot of local newspapers have got away with doing for a long time.
User generated content is a myth – most of the people populating these sites are the multiple sock-puppets of the person running it, continually reposting in an effort to make the site look busier.
The way to beat them is with proper, in-depth reporting. It’s time to go back to being journalists and do some honest-to-goodness writing, instead of trying to get away with doing as little as possible.