October 9th, 2009

KATU launches hyperlocal Portland blogs

KATU launches hyperlocal Portland blogs

You may remember that, in early September, we heard rumblings of Portland-based television station KATU getting into the hyperlocal blogging game. Now, as Oregon Media Central reports, the KATU community sites are live and accessible to the public.

And while this traditional media foray into typically grassroots reporting and blogging represents an “it’s about time” moment—and a move that validates what many local bloggers have been doing for years—it’s worth taking a look at what the KATU blogs are going to be covering.

The KATU blogs closely represent the model of Portland-based Neighborhood Notes. One which divides the beats into geographic regions of Portland. Although KATU’s blogs don’t appear to get down to the neighborhood level, as of yet.

They are currently covering the following beats:

Each site carries its own blog and RSS feed, allowing readers to hone in on the specific areas that interest them.

And at this point, they’re promoting them fairly heavily with a pop-up on the KATU site.


As an aside, I think there’s going to be some interesting content developed here. But I was more interested in keeping track of more of a macro level—without having to subscribe to a ton of different feeds. So, using the magic of Yahoo! Pipes, I crated up a bunch of the different RSS feeds into a single feed.

I thought you might like that kind of thing too. If so, here you go. I’m happy to share:

Blogging beats aren’t the only concepts KATU is borrowing. In addition to KATU created content, they’re looking for local writers to contribute content, as well. Likely without compensation for the writers.

Good, bad, or indifferent?

So what’s this mean for the local blogs—like Neighborhood Notes, OurPDX, ThePortlander, and others—who have already been covering these beats? And what’s it mean to traditional publications like The Oregonian, The Portland Mercury, Willamette Week, and the Portland Tribune and its cadre of various local newspapers?

Who knows?

It could mean nothing. I mean, blogging isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And as anyone who has tried it knows, it ain’t as easy as it looks.

It’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not these new entrants will be able to keep up the day to day grind. Just as more importantly, it’s hard to say—at this early juncture—whether or not they will be able to cultivate the community required to make their blogs something more than what they’re already delivering.

Or it could mean that these small grassroots efforts are not long for this world. Their efforts and community could be quickly subsumed, as traditional media types start encroaching on their territory. Beating them to stories, advertising, and the ever-important reader who trusts them.

But I tend to take a more positive outlook.

I remain convinced that—first and foremost—traditional media entering the hyperlocal arena validates that the market exists. And that’s a good thing for everyone. What’s more, it creates opportunities for traditional and grassroots media to form some interesting alliances.

In some Portland metro area communities we know there are already well-established neighborhood blogs. These are great sites and great resources. However, just like there are many media sources and voices, we believe we can also become a go-to resource for you and your community.

And it seems like Fisher—KATU’s parent company—may be thinking about the community efforts in a similar way.

“We could actually help grow traffic for other neighborhood blogs by providing links and creating partnerships,” [Fisher Interactive manager Troy] McGuire said. “Not everyone is seeing that opportunity.”

No doubt, KATU is just the first of what will be many traditional media outlets to make the leap into the hyperlocal blogging. But how the lumbering media giants participate in the world of blogging remains to be seen.

Whatever the case, It will be interesting to see how this space evolves. Both in Portland and elsewhere.

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8 Responses to “KATU launches hyperlocal Portland blogs”

  1. Aaron B. Hockley says:

    I checked out the site for my ‘hood. Hit the advertising link (I’m possibly interested in advertising in a hyperlocal way).

    Apparently their sales department doesn’t have email. The whole “call Seattle to talk about hyperlocal advertising in the Couve” thing is kind of a turn off.

  2. RobertWagner says:

    I think it’s a bit misleading to call these “KATU blogs” at all as the exact same blogging model has already been up and running in the Seattle metro area for awhile now under the KOMO label – both are basically Fisher Communications trying to hide behind a more locally known and accepted brand in their respective markets. While it’s too soon to tell whether or not the Portland region (and Portland bloggers) will take to them, the Seattle area blogs are already experiencing a bit of resentment from long-standing blogs in the area for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is Fisher shamelessly stealing stories without any sort of attribution.

    Example: http://www.b-townblog.com/2009/09/18/an-open-letter-to-komo-and-fisher-broadcasting/

    In my opinion, what Fisher is doing here reeks of corporate “me too” coattail riding in its purest and most transparent form. While it’s obviously nice to see big media doing something to be a little more in touch with their audience, I have to question their approach and the statement that they intend to “help grow traffic for other neighborhood blogs by providing links and creating partnerships” – this simply hasn’t been the case in Seattle so far, at least not from what I’ve read. It would be naive to expect anything different here.

    We’re fortunate enough to have a couple of very (very) good local blogs here, more importantly we have a wealth of extraordinary bloggers. What Fisher doesn’t realize is that blogging is simply a distribution method, not a “product” unto itself. They’re approaching blogging in a common and corporate way – ignoring that it’s the content that’s important, not the delivery method. Until they realize that, and hopefully they will, they’re doing nothing more than devaluing everything the rest of us hold near and dear and treating it like a commodity.

    Remember, television thinks of us as numbers (viewers) and not as people. Do we really trust that they’ll look at our small, local communities as anything more than that?

    I’m sorry Rick, I completely understand why you’re trying to be positive about this and honestly that’s one of the reasons I love Silicon Florist as much as I do, but I just don’t think that this is a good thing – not at all.

  3. Jmartens says:

    Thanks for the mention of ThePortlander, we are working hard to make it a great resource for Portlanders.

    I am glad to see more attention on Portland and hyperlocal news from the likes of Fisher. Hyperlocal news/blogs are turning into the holy grail of online media and advertising.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think KATU’s new neighborhood blogs live up to the spirit of hyperlocal or blogging in general.

    First, someone living in your hood is not necessarily writing about your hood. Take Hillsboro for example (my city). Someone named “B. Scott Anderson” is the most frequent author. His bio says he lives in Tigard. He also writes posts appearing in many other local KATU blogs, like downtown Portland and even Gresham. Of course there is no requirement for an author of a hyperlocal blog to live in that locale, but it is important to many people…including me.

    My second issue is that many of these authors are simply KATU employees. B Scott Anderson, whom I mentioned above, is web producer for KATU.com. Other authors include Anna Song (reporter and anchor for KATU news), Thom Jensen (reporter for KATU news) and Shellie Bailey-Shah (KATU reporter).

    The last point I’ll make (for now) is that much of the content on these neighborhood blogs is just regurgitated from KATU.com Take these stories, for example:


    Exact same stories, word for word.

    So, what I believe Fisher Communications has created here is just another delivery method for the same news, produced by the same people as KATU.com. Putting this new under unique URL’s hardly makes it hyperlocal.

    Ultimately, I don’t think anyone has figured out hyperlocal yet….including ThePortlander. But we do know what it is not.

  4. Hi, Rick. Thanks for the mention. We appreciate it. :-)

    (We’ve said it before.. ) Neighborhood Notes values hyperlocal news, because it provides neighbors with the opportunity to make informed, proactive decisions about where they live—rather than react. To that end, we welcome any news organization that endeavors to improve the quality of life in Portland neighborhoods by sharing information that will create opportunities for neighbors to communicate and connect.

    There are so many great stories at the hyperlocal level, we’re glad that there are so many [well funded] resources—like KATU’s community blogs and KOIN’s “Keep It Local”—springing up to give them coverage. After all, this *is* all about the neighborhoods—not the competition, right?

    The more the merrier. If we have to step things up as a result, we welcome the challenge to improve our efforts.

  5. B Scott Anderson is also the only(?) Sherwood author so far.

    But, even with the lack a truly local blogger, all in all, not a bad first version. It has a nice look and function to it. Good competition for the realtor based local blogs. The one thing I found disconcerting was the linking of content. I click on a post asking about restaurants, and all the comments talk about restaurants in the Pearl. Turns out it was a post from the NW Portland blog, so why is it on the Sherwood one? If I wanted to read about NW restaurants, I’d go to that blog. Anyway, I’m sure the kinks will get worked out the cross-community content will get labeled better.

    @Aaron, if you still reach the intended audience, and that audience is important to you, does it really matter where the sales department is? Still, I agree, what a pain to have to call.

  6. It’s a good start. I think it’s decent packaging, even if it is just repackaging, as Jmartens pointed out.

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