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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 Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism is a nonprofit investigative news organization affiliated with the University of Iowa. The center was launched in spring 2010 by University of Iowa professor Stephen Berry and doctoral student Robert Gutsche Jr. It was initially staffed by students and interns working for free, though its leaders have plans…