Local can work, complete with facts and figures

In the recent round of virtual mud-slinging in the ‘curmudgeons’ versus digital journalists, one of the arguments by way of assertion is that hyper-local doesn’t work. It is, of course, a reductionist argument, lumping together a wide range of strategies. A lot of the assertions are short on facts, but Vickey Williams at the Readership Institute highlights two dailies that are succeeding in creating local community. From the Bakersfield Californian:

My thought is that it’s because this paper lives up to its role as an essential connector and network builder. Some stats from Molen this week: 1,192 individual Bakersfield.com blogs launched since the newspaper’s site began hosting weblogs two years ago this month; 314 updated within the last three months. Add in the newspaper company’s nine other sites (including MasBakersfield, NorthwestVoice, NewToBakersfield; and their newest, RaisingBakersfield.com) and the number goes to 2,780 blogs launched, of which 655 have been updated in the last three months.

That community content represents about 18 percent of Bakersfield.com’s traffic and 25 percent of total traffic throughout the local network of sites, Molen said. “It is easily the fastest growing source of traffic for us.”

Another interesting metric is the number of people who have created public profiles in the company’s online social network, and in doing so, essentially endorse its brands. For Bakersfield.com, the number is 16,792; across all 10, it’s 31,868.

I would be curious to see their frequency numbers. What is the average frequency of their visitors? Is it better than the average visit of two pageviews per visitor per month?