Bridget Hurley
Professor Ferrier
Comm. 100: Final Paper on Hyperlocal News
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Arlington Area

ARLNow
Site name: ARL Now
Site URL: www.arlnow.com
Dates of Analysis:

Home page images:
April 2

April 3

April 4

April 5

April 6

April 7

April 8

April 9

April 11

April 12

April 14

April 15

April 16

April 17




Geographic Reach:

Type of Site: Hyperlocal

Demographic Summary:
Representation:
ARL Now is a website designed for people living in Arlington, Virginia. The zip codes included in Arlington, Virginia are 22101, 22211, 22203, 22204, 22205, 22206, 22207, and 22209. As a hyper local site, ARLNow caters to the needs of people living specifically within these area codes, as opposed to focusing on bigger, national news.
ARLNow’s website is set up to look more like a national news site. There is a box at the top of the website with three boxes that change stories every few days, which, when clicked, are directed to the full story, which is similar to newspapers with main stories summarized on the front page that you have to read on another page. These main stories include pictures and titles with updates on crime, new restaurant openings, events in the community, and more breaking news. Below the news boxes there are tabs that always have sections such as real estate, forums, event calendars, service directory, and maps. The weather in Arlington is always displayed in the top right corner of the website. Along with regular local news stories, ARLNow also has three columns: Ask Adam, Beer and Cheese, and Legal Beat. These three columns add a little more zest to the regular stories.
There are a surprisingly low number of advertisements on ARLNow.com. On the right side of the main page there is a column of ads. This is another aspect of the layout of the ARLNow website that is similar to a newspaper. Some advertisements that have appeared on the website are for local universities, loan offices, grocery stores, law firms, and apartment buildings. Most of these advertisements are not very colorful or creative and focus on the main point of what they are publicizing.
In specific articles, there is usually one or two images. There is generally a bar with a single image-based advertisement above several text advertisements linked to featured events as well as goods and services in the area. Below the article, there is user-generated content, which is divided into “comments” and “reactions”. Comments are pretty self-explanitory, and generally involve members of the community discussing and debating issues in their area. Reactions are usually linked to Twitter and involve re-posting of the story and the link, along with the user’s short reaction to the story itself.
Most of the stories featured on ARLNow are currently happening and all of them are focused completely on the local Arlington area. Most stories revolve around crime. Articles are generally less than a page long, which means that the audience could read or skim them quickly, perhaps while at work or school.
Sample Size: 14 Home Screen Page Grabs
Content Analysis

Female
Male
Total
White
3
17
20
Black
2
1
3
Hispanic
1
0
1
Asian
0
0
0
Native American
0
0
0
Total Gender
6
18
24
Percentages

Female
Male
Total
White
50%
95%
83%
Black
33%
5%
12.5%
Hispanic
1.67%
0%
.42%
Asian
0%
0%
0%
Native American
0%
0%
0%
Total Gender
100%
100%
100%




Production
The production of ARLNow seems to be lacking. Sometimes there are new stories every day while in other situations the website will not be updated for several days, even up to a week. When the stories were updated, though, it was usually about breaking news and developing stories. At least one picture is included in every article, but most images are somewhat vague, as this picture from a recent article shows:
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The pictures generally are just for show and less about real information, but sometimes they can add more to the story, as with this story about a bank robbery that shows the criminal’s face:
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Although the content seemed to be sporadically updated, the advertisements on the site were constantly changing, even when I just refreshed the page.
The articles are generally are not attributed to a specific author, rather, as seen above, to “ARLNow.com”. Upon investigating the staff of the magazine I learned that it is fairly small staff comprised of between one and three contributors. These articles always have an area where the audience can contribute through user-generated content in the forms of comments and reactions.
Outside of the regular news articles, there are also three news columns, which list varying contributors. Beer and Cheese, a sponsored column focusing on how to be a good host or hostess, has varying local contributors, but is always sponsored by a local business. Ask Adam is a real estate Q&A column that is sponsored by Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty. The Legal Beat is written by various authors but mainly a man named Matthew B. Tully. The Legal Beat is sponsored by Tully Rinckey PLLC, a company offering attourneys and counslers at law. These columns also offer readers the ability to comment or react to different stories.
Sample Home Page:
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Identity
While reading the articles featured in ARLNow, one can deduct that the readers of this site are interested in the business, events, and safety of their community. In the “About Us” section, there is a tip line to call and an email address for crime or activities that the audience wants covered. This gives a sense of community within the news, in that anyone in the Arlington area can have a say in what news is shown. This really gives the audience a feeling of hyper local coverage, because if something happens down the street from them, they have a chance to get the word out.
The amount of community calendars with events and business openings gives me the impression that readers are very involved with their community’s economic wellbeing, but the amount of stories revolving around crime and accidents makes it seem like safety is a main concern of the readers. According to Alexa.com, most readers of ARLNow.com are mainly well-educated, high income, older, childless women who browse the site from school and work. These statistics come into play with the identity that ARLNow is trying to appeal to. The main readers of the site would most likely have the time and money to support the community, and would be affected by crime and robberies more than lower income families. The website and the articles it focuses on definitely caters to this population’s identity and needs.
Consumption
ARLNow is used to update its audience mainly on crime and local Arlington events. This site is made meaningful to its audience and consumers because it focuses on issues that are relevant, current, and local. The stories directly affect the lives of the readers in that they may change future plans, since it offers so many community events, weather, and crime-ridden areas to avoid. Many of the stories covered pertain directly to the audience, since the area covered is so small. Consumers looking for a good amount of news going on directly in their area would have their needs met by ARLNow.
An interesting aspect of the consumption of ARLNow is the amount of time that audience generally spends on the site. According to Alexa.com, the average time that a reader spends on ARLNow is around three minutes. This may have to do with the length of the articles or the lack of frequent updates. Judging by this information, a reader would be consuming this information mainly by skimming the most new and updated stories and articles. This low number may also have to do with the infrequent updates of the site.
Something that I found surprising in the Alexa.com data was that only eighty-six percent of the audience that visited the website was located in the United States. The other fourteen percent of consumers is located in India. Since the site is completely hyper local and based upon the events in a small area of the United States it is interesting that there is a readership anywhere else, let alone somewhere abroad. There is no further information about why or how the website has reached that far away, but it is an interesting aspect of the readership to consider while analyzing the site.
Regulation
Since the stories featured on ARLNow.com are centralized in a very small area, the regulation of stories and what they could and could not cover is an interesting topic. Even when there is big national news, ARLNow does not cover it. This shows that the writers and editors are aware that there are bigger news sources that could cover national stories better. Since the website is completely dedicated to the Arlington area, any story outside of that area would not be included in the website.
Since there is a significant amount of space available for articles on the front page, writers for the website are given an opportunity to cover a lot of information that the audience will be exposed to as soon as they log on. The large amount of available space may also be a problem for regulation, since the reader may get bored with one long story as opposed to a greater amount of smaller, more focused stories.


Evaluation
All in all, ARLNow.com has managed to appeal very well to its readership, but perhaps not to all of Arlington in general. The stories and articles definitely appeal to their audience of white, well educated, high-income women, but Arlington as a whole is not made up of only those people. There is a significant amount of people who live in Arlington who do not have a high income as well as a significant amount of people who are not highly educated (or educated past high school), as well as a high number of people who are not Caucasian. A majority of the people shown in articles and advertisements are white men. The only time that someone of a different ethnicity was shown was in articles about crime. I think that although ARLNow is very good at appealing to their specific audience, as a hyper local site it has an obligation to try to reach as much of the Arlington population as is possible, which could be done by covering a wider range of stories and events and diversifying the population they picture in content.
Works Cited



Audience Demographics for Coronadelmartoday.com. (n.d). Retrieved April 5, 2013
from Alexa Web site: < http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/arlnow.com#>.

Man Jumps onto Tracks at Courthouse Metro Station. May 6, 2013. Retreieved May 6,
2013 from ARLNow Website < http://www.arlnow.com/2013/05/06/man-jumps-onto-tracks-at-courthouse-metro-station/>.
Updated: Bank Robbery in Ballston. May 6, 2013. Retreived May 6, 2013 from
ARLNow Website < http://www.arlnow.com/2013/05/06/breaking-bank-robbery-in-ballston/>.