By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions unveils Needham site’s hyperlocal site for Needham has debuted. And there are a ton of links to GateHouse’s Needham Times as well as the Hometown Weekly — but not much Boston Globe content. “Wicked Evil Needham” is how a GateHouse source describes it, a play on GateHouse’s “Wicked Local” sites.

Which brings me back to the video I linked to yesterday, in which’s Bob Kempf talks about eventually offering 120 hyperlocal sites. I’m kind of scratching my head over that. In a community where can put together a page featuring a decent amount of Globe content and links to local, independent bloggers, a few links to other papers’ Web sites strike me as fine. That’s why I think the Newton site is promising.

But what do Kempf and company plan to do in a community like, say, Danvers, worldwide headquarters for Media Nation? We have two papers covering our town: GateHouse’s Danvers Herald and CNHI’s Salem News. Both do quite a nice job. But there are no local bloggers in Danvers whom I’m aware of. And it’s not very often that Globe North does a Danvers-specific story.

Would really put together a hyperlocal page consisting of almost nothing but links to the Danvers Herald and the Salem News?

I realize I’m being ridiculously speculative. So let’s wait and see.

Update: Waltham is up, too (via Elana Zak).

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  1. O-FISH-L

    Dan, what do you expect to happen in the unique newspaper city of Quincy? While the Gate House Patriot Ledger is on-line, the popular, well-done and independent weekly Quincy Sun, full of valuable local content, is not on-line. Plus, part of the Ledger’s woes are due to the fact that the City of Presidents is now about 30% Asian and few of those folks buy the local papers, instead choosing Sampan, World Journal and the like.Will just run with the Ledger stories, does someone go out and buy the Quincy Sun and reproduce their content on-line? Do they link to any of the Asian papers that have Quincy related news? Boston Herald stalwarts Jessicas Van Sack, Fargen and Heslam all started at the Ledger and have solid Quincy PD and City Hall sources. Does link to the Herald when one of those reporters breaks a Quincy scoop, as they have done before? As a side note, with all the talk of eliminating print, has anyone considered that one way to increase print sales/circulation would be to eliminate a newspaper’s on-line presence? Seems to work well for the Quincy Sun, now in it’s 40th year and going strong.

  2. Kris Olson

    Quick check at 8 a.m. Saturday: Rough count of news on, 2/3 Gatehouse; 1/3 Globe and other sources.On Needham site, “Sports” is ENTIRELY GHM content, and they also also build a nifty little module on the proposed Turnpike toll hikes on the Needham Times’ back (including a link to my own story on the hearing in Lynn Monday night — uh, thanks?).To me, if nothing else does, that sort of crosses the “fair use” line (layman’s definition, if not constitutional). Does that not send a message to the reader, “Hey look at this great comprehensive package we put together. (Please try to ignore the fact that we weren’t the ones sitting in a hearing with the Pike board for two-and-a-half hours, calling all the local reps, getting the state senator’s guest column.)”?Good question, too, O-Fish, on whether the Globe would link to Herald content. Given the way they have treated GHM content, you would have to think the answer is “yes.” If not, I would be interested in hearing the rationale.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Kris: This is not a statement disguised as a question. It’s a real question, and I hope you’ll answer it.Does it not matter to you that every link you mention consists of barely a few words, and that you have to click through to GateHouse in order to find out what the story is about?The answer to that question is the central issue as continues to roll out these sites.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: Based on everything I’ve read, print circulation of local newspapers has not been hurt all that much by the Internet. The reason local papers like the Patriot Ledger have developed Web sites is that their executives think there will be revenue opportunities somewhere down the line.The big problem for newspapers is not a loss of circulation but the collapse of the advertising market, especially classifieds.In truth, though, the biggest problem is the debt that corporations took on in order to buy these papers.No handy link, but it was recently reported that every one of Tribune Co.’s properties, including the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, is profitable. Yet the company itself is bankrupt because of the $13.6 billion in debt that was taken on in order to put the chain together.The parallel to GateHouse is obvious.

  5. Kris Olson

    Dan,Disclaimer: I may be just giving you a visceral reaction here and at some point, my brain may win the battle and see this as more benign than it is, but…My problem, I think, is not the effect on any individual story. The rational side of me understands your point. If a reader clicks through on my story, I understand that is a “page view” for GHM, not the Globe, and our sites do not lose traffic and may even gain some from the fact that exists. I get that.But I think I am less worried about this philosophical issue and more about a practical one. I think what I find offensive is when you view these sites as a whole and see them for what I presume at least hopes they will one day become: revenue generators.I am thinking of the local liquor-store or toy-store owner who is visited by two ad reps, one from Wicked Local, one from I can hear the ad rep saying, “Look, we have everything the Wicked Local site has — right on down to the reporters and editors you have come to know and love — plus more.” I don’t think the business owner digs deeper to find out how those links got there. If I am that business owner, am I advertising on a) both sites b) just one or c) neither? I don’t think many would (or can afford to) choose a); I do think many would choose c), which is both companies’ challenge, but if they choose b), they will likely decide which one in large part without regard to who is doing the actual journalism.(My experience continues to be that many of our readers/business owners, while they know me, have no idea whether the Gatehouse papers are still owned by the Herald, as they once were, the Globe, Fidelity or somebody else; or whether the Reporter and Salem News are the same company or competitors, etc. If they see my stuff or our infamous columnist Dawn Bucket on, they may well think they are supporting The Reporter by advertising on But I am sure the ad rep will clear that right up, right?)As I illustrated in my previous post, it certainly seems like the sports section, for example, of *doesn’t exist* if not for the Needham Times, a GateHouse paper. Or if it exists, it exists in a pretty sorry state, as the editor waits in vain for the school athletic department’s volunteer to get around to posting a new blog entry. So what offends me is that Gatehouse employees are now out there in these communities, doing the legwork, building the relationships, etc., all so the Globe can have a vibrant site on which to sell advertising? Doesn’t feel right to me…But of course, whether something “feels right” has no bearing on whether the Globe is allowed to do something. It may well be that I and my colleagues have to come to grips with the fact that we, to a degree, may have been “outflanked,” at least for the moment, in the battle to build the “virtual front door” to our communities. Maybe Bob Kempf is “crazy like a fox” for figuring out that he could build robust local Web sites without anyone on the Globe payroll breaking a sweat and do so without consequence, aside from having a few of his former Gatehouse colleagues stamping their feet.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Kris: I think you make some good and important points. Here’s a parallel we all ought to think about. Google News does pretty much the same thing — gathering links and driving traffic to news sites. The argument has been made — heck, I’ve made it — that this is good for journalism, since those sites are getting traffic they otherwise might not get.But what don’t you see on Google News? Advertising. Google could easily sell ads, but it hasn’t for fear of coming across as too provocative and starting a war with media companies. It looks like the war may have come to Eastern Mass.

  7. Chuck Tanowitz

    I know why the Globe is doing this, it’s a matter of survival. But as someone who has created a hyper-local site I’m wondering if the Globe is late to the party. I’ve found that Facebook is a much better way for me to keep up with my neighbors. Then there is Twitter, the Globe shows no signs of using that either. So while it’s something, it just seems… um… old.

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