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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.
California Watch was a nonprofit investigative news organization that focused on public affairs issues in California. Its work has been subsumed under that of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting, which founded it. California Watch was founded in 2009 and is based in Berkeley, Calif. In March 2012, CIR merged with the Bay Area nonprofit news site…