If it can be judged by Patch’s mass hiring trend, hyper-local journalism is the fastest growing market in the field. Based on the Fwix stats, it may be one of the slowest.
While Patch puts an editor in every community (equipped with a freelance budget and other tools), and a Regional Editor for every 12 sites, Fwix pulls snip-bits from what they deem reliable news sources/blogs and links back to the full article on the host site. According to the Fwix website there are only 16 staff employees, including the founder and CEO Darian Shirazi.
The main difference between the sites, of course, is that Patch focuses on creating original content while Fwix aggregates news from other sources. Fwix determines its sources and source reliability based on number-crunching from their “systems” and some fine-tuning by their small editorial team, according to an e-mail interview with Founder and CEO Darian Shirazi.
The real questions come down to quality of content and – the big issue for the future of media – sustainability.
Fwix also doesn’t have $50 million and the clout of AOL pushing them. It doesn’t have the overhead costs of Patch, either. Its base of funding came from a $2.75 mill investment by BlueRun Ventures in 2009.
Patch has built, and is still building, an advertising and sales team focused on bringing in dollars from local businesses. Fwix built the AdWire software to do the work for it. Both are pretty similar approaches which (hopefully) add up to make both ventures sustainable. What is obvious, however, is the Fwix model cuts down heavily on operating costs.
The AdWire widget also allows other sites to host news local to their visitors, potentially earning revenue for both in the process. The Yellow Pages website has implemented the tool, along with a variety of other companies including the New York Times, UPI.com, and numerous blogs.
Fwix also allows journalists to sign up with AdWire for their slice of the revenue stream. While it’s not a Patch salary, it could mark a turning point in how aggregation sites conduct business.
Both sites play a slightly different role in hyper-local journalism. Here in Georgia we haven’t seen the aggregation of Patch news via Fwix, but that’s probably because none of our Patch sites have launched yet.
Where do you see it heading?