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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 Poynter Institute is a nonprofit journalism education and training center in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Poynter Institute was founded in 1975 as the Modern Media Institute; its name was changed to the Poynter Institute in 1984. Poynter has owned the Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s largest newspaper, since 1978, when its founder, Nelson Poynter, willed…