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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 New England Center for Investigative Reporting is a nonprofit investigative journalism project based at Boston University, the first such organization that covers local and regional issues. The Center was founded in 2009 and is funded by the university as well as a $400,000 Knight Foundation grant. The Center was staffed as of 2012 by four…