National sites battle local entities on their own turf

There was a point when regional news was strictly the domain of local papers, broadcast affiliates, and radio stations.

In the news
There was a point when regional news was strictly the domain of local papers, broadcast affiliates, and radio stations. But this year, as the media landscape changes, several national brands have been expanding into local coverage.

The Huffington Post, ESPN, and CBSSports.com, using varying editorial models, such as aggregation, original content, and a mix of the two, have already implemented local coverage in several major cities, such as New York and Chicago, and are planning to expand into others.

The outlets likely “see a possible weakness that they can exploit in local media, and are looking to connect with people on their most passionate levels,” says Staci Kramer, co-editor of PaidContent.org. “You can only go so far with national politics and sports from a national perspective.”

Why does it matter?
Kramer predicts that more national news and information outlets will go local in the next two years, but their level of success will largely depend on just how locally they choose to cover a region.

“A lot of it will depend on how hyperlocal they want to go. You can't just go in and cover Chicago,” she says. “How deep can you cover Chicago? Is this about the neighborhood, or the precinct, or the school system?”

Media relations strategists will have to plan their approaches on what type of editorial policies the sites use, whether aggregation, blogging, or traditional news content, says Ruth Sarfaty, EVP of media strategies at MWW Group.

“It depends on what form these sites take,” she explains. “It depends on if they are journalists who are reporting, if they are aggregating other things, or if they are sharing opinions.”

Three facts:
1. The Huffington Post and ESPN were among the first national media brands to create networks of local Web sites, covering news and sports, respectively

2. ESPN's Chicago site pulls existing content; The Huffington Post mixes new and aggregated content

3. BSSports.com planned to place sports reporters with all NFL clubs to report locally during training camp

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