When NBC announced it was shutting down its hyper-local news site EveryBlock, NBC News vice president Vivian Schiller made the decision something of a referendum on the hyper-local news business model. She told Poynter: “[EveryBlock] is a wonderful scrappy business but it wasn’t a strategic fit with our growth strategy and — like most hyperlocal businesses — was struggling with the business model.” She’s got a point about the business model. Similar services have also struggled to become profitable with the New York Times backing away from The Local and the most prominent, AOL’s Patch, shifting its focus away from news to become more of a “community hub.”
But while the fact that EveryBlock and its ilk were struggling came as no surprise, the network’s plan to close it did shock users, who complained on EveryBlock’s farewell blog post that they didn’t have time to recover content they’d posted. EveryBlock founder Adrian Holovaty, who left the company last summer, wrote on his own blog that the closure took him by surprise. “I had no idea NBC News would be shutting it down,” he wrote. “The last time I talked with an NBC News representative, at a conference a few months after I left EveryBlock, he indicated that NBC was optimistic about the site’s future.” But a few months is ages in Internet time.