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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 Austin American-Statesman is a daily newspaper in Austin, Texas. The Statesman was founded in 1871 is owned by Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises, which bought the paper in 1976. Cox attempted to sell the paper in 2008 and 2009, but took the paper off the market when offers were far less than what the company had…