KOMO launched a set of hyperlocal “communities” yesterday. Mercer Island is one of the exclusive group of 43 communities in Puget Sound to get its own page. It’s always nice to have more people adding to the local conversation so I checked it out.
When go to the site, you may notice that none of the content that you can see without scrolling is actually Mercer Island-specific– with one exception, noted below. There’s a lead story on the primary that looks to have been recycled in most King County communities. There’s a Puget Sound-focused masthead that also gets plenty of use in other KOMO community sites. There’s a pitch for tips (all bloggers love tips, hint hint) and a generic advice column on the left.
In fact, the one exception to the cookie-cutter content seems to be the ads. And even those are curious. For example, Maggie Moos on 28th is advertising, but they’ve shut down (or, by the looks of the empty storefront, gone deep into stealth mode, an unusual business plan for an ice cream joint).
Scrolling down, you can see that there are a few Mercer Island-specific stories down there, along with several more that were sprinkled across all of King County (the Nordstrom Rack; a triathlon; school openings, with a custom line thrown in at the end linking to the MISD). To their credit, some of the other community sites seem to have a bit more of a personal touch.
Local content is hard. It’s a bit of a labor of love, because most local markets are small enough that it’s hard to make money on advertising (this blog doesn’t even try) while being current. Most local bloggers just care about their community enough to blog, or have mis-estimated the value of their own time enough that they think it’s worth it, or both.
KOMO hasn’t cracked the local content nut in Mercer Island. But it seems to have figured out how to make money from local businesses. Maybe that’s what they were going for anyway.