What we're all waiting to see, of course, is what happens down the road. Will they achieve critical mass? Will they be business successes? (One plainly depends on the other.) Will this model scale to a mass of sites that all pretty much run themselves?
Hyper-local is gaining mindshare fast. In addition to Backfence, some news organizations have launched these kinds of sites (see the Northwest Voice and Bluffton Today, both of which are connected to new print publications as well as the "legacy" newspaper companies that run them); more are coming. I'm
also very much looking forward to what Mike Orren and team do with Pegasus News.
These are crucial experiments, and my best wishes go with the pathbreakers who are pushing this ahead. We'll all be going to school on each others' work for some time to come.