It’s not about hyperlocal news. It’s about hyperlocal ads. Newspapers have yet to figure out how to serve relevant ads to truly hyperlocal audiences.
For example, there is a family owned Mexican restaurant near my house that makes great burritos. I love the place. They NEVER advertise in the Minneapolis Star Tribune because it’s cost prohibitive due to the reach of the paper (both in print and online).
However, they DO advertise in the weekly newspapers that show up on my doorstep, in flyers, and on the wall of a local bowling alley. That’s hyperlocal advertising that the Minneapolis StarTribune simply doesn’t offer.
However, there are certainly thousands of StarTribune readers within this particular restaurant’s target market geography. They’re reading the paper daily – either in print or online – but the advertising is higher level stuff that doesn’t connect with readers at the same level as a neighborhood offer would.
The point here is that the news being consumed doesn’t have to be hyperlocal to justify hyperlocal ads. As long as the publisher can detect that someone is qualified for receiving a particular ad, the advertiser and reader will be more satisfied with the product.