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Local News Becomes Web’s New Boom TownAs local news and information become the hot topics on the Web, an increasing number of Web sites, including AOL’s Patch and local search company Fwix, are vying to become go-to sources in the local space.By Michele ChandlerNetNewsCheck, December 9, 2010 7:44 AM EST
Santa Clara, Calif. — Want to find out whether the line is too long at your local coffee shop, get coupons for the store down the street or see a local restaurant review?
A new generation of Web sites is aiming to become your go-to source for local community news and information.
The organization most solidly in the spotlight is AOL’s Patch, a nationwide network of hyperlocal news sites. “We try to be a hub for information,” said Warren Webster, president of Patch Media, which hit its goal of operating in 500 U.S. communities this year with today’s launch of its operation in Hopkins, Minn.
The company’s bread-and-butter: tightly-written breaking news alerts, feature updates and banner ads. “If you’re not in that town, it’s the most boring information in the world,” Webster said. “But if that’s where you live, it’s the most fascinating.”
AOL, which paid $7 million for Patch last year, recently made an additional $50 million investment to enable the operation to expand. “We like to think of ourselves as part local company and part big Internet company,” Webster explained. Through its rapid expansion, Patch expects to be the largest hirer of full-time journalists in the U.S. this year.
While Patch creates its own content, other companies seeking to offer local information are figuring out the best ways to compile and present information from existing sources.
Two-year-old local search company Fwix [pronounced ‘FOO-wicks’] collects information from various online sites and has built pages detailing local happenings for 50,000 towns across the U.S.
“We can show you restaurant reviews, places, status updates and photos,” said Darian Shirazi, founder and CEO of the San Francisco-based company that presents information for foreign destinations as far-flung as South Africa and Ireland. “You can navigate to any neighborhood or location in the world and get down to what is happening near you.”