Baristanet, the queen of hyperlocal blogs, is five years old today.
I remember well the NJ.com Meetup we held back then to try to encourage locals to blog on our site. I learned an important lesson there. Debbie Galant, the original Barista, said starting a town blog was a good idea but she sure as hell wasn’t going to do it for my site. She wanted to own and build her own site and value and brand.
And she did. Bariastanet is a phenomenon. It has not just survived but succeeded. It is profitable. It is expanding, adding another blog to its stable recently. It has developed a strong reputation inside Montclair and outside. Congratulations to Deb and Liz and company for that. They have inspired others to start hyperlocal blogs not only across the country but in their own backyard, as The New York Times creates The Local and AOL president Tim Armstrong funds Patch in the nabe. Five years ago, they knew they were onto something and they’re being proved right.
I think the next frontier will be creating networks across blogs of geography and interest so they can reach critical mass to sell to larger advertisers and to share content and effort and perhaps cost. I believe blogs such as this will be a – not the but a – building block in the new ecosystem of news that will begin to replace in fits and starts failing newspapers. (In that ecosystem, I think there will also be newfangled news organizations that help organize the news in this diverse network.) I also hope that we’ll find many new ways for the Baristanets of the world to serve local businesses and make more money so they can sustain their work.
Great work, Baristas.