Despite having sold 550 ads to local businesses since April, citizen journalist website Backfence is in trouble, according to The Washington Post. In May 2005, Backfence won $3M in funding from local investors and national firms, but last week they lost three executives, including their co-founder. Apparently, the management team reached an impasse with investors on the best way to enter new markets.
“It always ends up being so much different than the way you imagine it to be,” Potts said. Over the next three months, he said, Backfence will add more features, such as social networking, online video and mapping. “We haven’t rolled out as quickly as we’d wanted to. But we think the basic concept we went after is absolutely still the right place to be.”
Media analysts agree that many readers are looking for hyperlocal content, but they say most citizen-journalism sites aren’t mature enough to tap into the lucrative local advertising markets.
“Realistically, it’s going to take close to 10 years for the business models to be there and for there to be enough advertisers willing to give money to hyperlocal start-ups,” said Vin Crosbie, managing partner of Digital Deliverance, a Connecticut media consulting firm. “Backfence’s problem is that it was too early.”