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Backfence was a network of user-driven hyperlocal news sites that launched in 2005 and closed in 2007.
Backfence was founded in 2005 by Mark Potts and Susan DeFife with five staff members and two community sites in the Washington, D.C., area. It raised $3 million in local and national investment and eventually expanded to 13 sites near Washington, Chicago, and San Francisco.
Backfence averaged about one full-time staff member per site, though its content came from users, who could blog, edit wikis or post photos there. The company was supported by self-service display and classified advertising. The site was considered at the time one of the bellwethers of the “citizen journalism” movement.
The Houston Chronicle is a daily newspaper owned by Hearst Corp. It is the second-largest newspaper in Texas and 13th-largest in the U.S., with 360,251 in combined print and online daily circulation as of 2013. The Chronicle’s online operation has been praised for its innovation. A 2006 study conducted by NYU professor Jay Rosen named…