WashingtonPost.Com Launches ‘Local Explorer’

WashingtonPost.com has soft-launched “Local Explorer, ” which allows users to map crime, home sales and school information by zip code. It is a great model for “mapped journalism.”

The tag line for Local Explorer says it allows you to explore “Police and fire stations, restaurants, bars, hospitals and more, plus Facts & Figures; Local News from The Post; Community Resources; Classifieds.’ The whole thing is very compelling – but strictly limited to the DC-area. (try my old Cap Hill zip code, “20003” to demo). The site will be officially announced later this week.

WashingtonPost.com, in fact, has really ramped up its hyperlocal activities. In addition to the Local Explorer, it has Express, its Oodle-powered crawl of local classifieds; its new City Guide; and its “On Being” video series of local people. The Post is also beefing up its exurban coverage –soon — by launching Loudonextra.com, per Paul Farhi in The American Journalism Review.

The Post seems to have been caught shorthanded by Loudon’s extremely fast growth, and has a news staff of just four people for its twice weekly Loudon supplement. The Loudon Extra site, with User Generated Content and other features, should supplement its efforts. (Loudon is the former farm land that includes Dulles Airport, AOL and tens of thousands of new homes).

When it comes to such exurban coverage, The Post is in an awkward corporate situation, since it also owns Gazette Newspapers, a chain of community papers that serves the Loudon marketplace. It is never clear whether its online and supplement efforts cannibalize Gazette and its own online efforts. But given the fast growth of the area, and lots of emerging media in Loudon, it is probably seen as a necessary, defensive move.

Indeed, just last year, BackFence signed to power the website for The Loudon Independent, a new startup paper in the County. Per Farhi, Loudon now has 11 weekly newspapers.

Farhi’s AJR article, which includes a couple of quotes from me, is a general overview of hyperlocal that has some other interesting details. It notes, for instance, that BaristaNet.com, the compelling hyperlocal site serving Essex County, NJ, is on target to make about $100,000 this year, up from $60,000 in 2006.

(Thanks to my colleague Taylor Walsh for pointing out The Post’s Local Explorer).

6 thoughts on “WashingtonPost.Com Launches ‘Local Explorer’

  1. Tooting my own horn here, but we had an explorer-like system over a year ago with the same idea (at least for businesses) – select a category, and go browsing over any area to find the x nearest points. ‘The Explorer’ it was called :)

  2. There’s nothing shatteringly new about post.com’s Local Explorer, but it’s so well packaged, and new layers of open-source content can be added. The only disappointment is that the news links are to stories that aren’t hyperlocal. That’s because the Post doesn’t, yet, have local-local contributors, staff or “citizen.”

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