Hyper-local news doesn’t exactly have a great track record — at least, not as a business. There’s a litany of failed attempts that stretches back at least a decade, including ventures like Backfence and more recent flame-outs like AOL’s Patch, which chewed through almost half a billion dollars. But that hasn’t stopped entrepreneurs from trying to make it work. Among the latest efforts are a bevy of Brooklyn-based blogs and a new project from Jim Brady, a former Washington Post digital executive who knows a thing or two about failure.
Brady’s project is still in the formative stages, but at the moment it is called Brother.ly, and it’s aimed at the Philadelphia news market, based in part at Temple University’s Center for Public Interest Journalism. And if there is a region that seems to need help in the local news department, Philadelphia definitely qualifies: the city’s leading newspaper has suffered from a rather dramatic decline, not to mention boardroom antics among its owners.
In an interview with the Poynter Institute, Brady said that he is investing “in the mid six figures” of his own money in Brother.ly, and that despite the less-than-impressive history of hyperlocal news ventures — including the ones he himself has been involved in — he is optimistic about his chances:
“The best that could happen is I go off and I build this thing and it’s really successful. The second best thing that could happen is I build this thing and it fails. But the worst thing is I get halfway and never find out.”