NBC shuts down hyperlocal news site
Despite user protests, EveryBlock not viable enough to keep open
It's a sad day for local news fans. NBC News has shuttered EveryBlock, a hyperlocal news site that pulled in and mapped useful information from a variety of rich sources, including Craigslist posts, police reports, restaurant inspections and Yelp reviews.
NBC announced the shutdown in a blog post on Thursday and it is effective immediately. The post has already racked up more than 630 comments, mostly by surprised loyal users who made up the active commenting community.
Launched in 2008 in Chicago by Adrian Holovaty, EveryBlock started as an exciting experiment with a two-year $1.1 million grant from the Knight Foundation. The company was acquired by MSNBC.com a year later, and in 2012 NBC News bought MSNBC.com.
The maps plotted a mix of commercial, government and nonprofit feeds. You could see Flickr photos, recent muggings, local news stories and home foreclosures on your street, viewed as a map, list or RSS feed.
Over the years the site expanded beyond Chicago to deliver local news for 19 cities, including San Francisco, Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles. Chicago always remained the most popular EveryBlock city, accounting for more than half the site's traffic, according to Alexa rankings.
Unfortunately for the committed users and 10 employees working on the project, the model wasn't profitable enough for NBC News to keep it open.
"We looked at various options to keep this going, but none of them were viable. It was a tough call to make," NBC News' chief digital officer Vivian Schiller told Poynter.
Schiller said EveryBlock wasn't a good fit with the company's growth strategy.
"EveryBlock was among the more innovative and ambitious journalism projects at a time when journalism desperately needed innovation and ambition. RIP," wrote a shocked Holovaty, who was no longer with the company, in a post on the closure.
"Within the world of neighborhood news there's an exciting pace of innovation yet increasing challenges to building a profitable business," said the EveryBlock team in a blog post. "Though EveryBlock has been able to build an engaged community over the years, we're faced with the decision to wrap things up."
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