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Primary website:
backfence.com

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.

In January 2007, DeFife left the company, and it laid off most of its employees. It finally shut down in July 2007.

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.

Peers, allies, & competitors:
Recent Nieman Lab coverage:
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The newsonomics of Patch’s unquilting — Too much of last week’s Patch news focused on CEO Tim Armstrong. Sure, it was a memorably punk moment, one of those historic instants (recall that other AOL-related one when then-Time Warner CEO Jerry Levin awkward...

Recently around the web, from Mediagazer:

Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: May 10, 2011.
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