Here at NowSpots we’re developing a new advertising platform that will let local publishers sell and publish real-time ads on their sites. In my last post here on MediaShift Idea Lab, I explained why real-time ads are a better business model for hyper-local bloggers and local publishers than AdSense or existing display ad solutions.

Since winning a 2010 Knight News Challenge award to kickstart development of our new platform, we’ve been busy meeting with publishers to learn more about their needs and problems. We’ve also been busy reading up on what’s happening in the hyper-local publishing space. This week I’m going to share with you 10 sites I read on a regular basis for news, commentary, and context about business models for hyper-local bloggers and local publishers. At the end of the post are links to subscribe to them through RSS or to follow them on Twitter.

Top Ten

1. MediaGazer

MediaGazer is a semi-automated aggregator for media news. It’s a dead-simple, one-page site that lists the day’s top media headlines from around the web alongside links to related coverage. What’s great about MediaGazer is that their algorithm makes sure they get just about everything interesting each day, while their editorial touch makes sure the front page is always interesting. Not every story on MediaGazer pertains to the local news game, but anything good that does will be there.

2. Nieman Journalism Lab

The Nieman Journalism Lab is a blog covering journalism’s efforts to figure out its future. Moreso than any other blog on the web, they are squarely focused on introducing new examples of “the new news” and figuring out what they might lead to. My only complaint is that I wish they’d post more. Just about everything they run is in my wheelhouse as a news startup guy.

3. Lost Remote

Lost Remote is focused on “hyper-local news, neighborhood blogs, and local journalism startups.” Originally started by MSNBC.com’s Cory Bergman, it is now edited by Steve Safran. Anything interesting that happens in the local news space that could impact hyper-local bloggers shows up here. Lost Remote is the TechCrunch of hyper-local bloggers. A must read.

4. Local Onliner

Peter Krasilovsky’s Local Onliner blog is a repository of analysis pieces on the future of local online publishing that he writes for the Kelsey Group blog. As a vice president at BIA/Kelsey, where he works on local online commerce, Krasilovsky’s perspective on hyper-local news, geo-targeted advertising and the like is worth a look for anyone who wants to understand the business behind local publishing.

5. Mashable’s local section

Uber-blog Mashable devotes a post or two each month to the local space, and its coverage is picking up with the rise of group-buying sites such as Groupon and location-based social networks such as Foursquare and GoWalla. I filter down to just posts tagged “local” to sidestep the never-ending onslaught of headlines about Twitter.

6. Local SEO Guide

Local SEO is a sharp blog from Andrew Shotland, an SEO consultant who specializes in local. Every hyper-local blogger needs to be aware of how findable their content is through search. Shotland’s blog offers detailed rundowns of topics such as why sites like Yelp do so well in search that can help you better connect with readers through local search.

7. Hyperlocal Blogger

Matt McGee’s Hyperlocal Blogger pulls together the latest news coverage of the hyper-local blogging space and publishes regular commentary on issues affecting neighborhood bloggers. For instance, McGee recently responded to the news that the city of Philadelphia is requiring city bloggers to buy a Business Privilege License for $300.

8. Chicago Art Magazine Transparency Pages

A bit of a hidden gem, this series of blog posts by Chicago Art Magazine’s Kathryn Born covers a seven month period in late 2009 during which she launched a collection of websites focused on the Chicago art scene. In these posts, which carry a bit of a confessional tone, she discusses how hard it is to sell ads to local galleries, and her philosophy on creating quick content for the web. They’re a great recounting of the trials and tribulations of starting a hyper-local web publication, and every hyper-local blogger should read them.

9. MediaShift Idea Lab

The blog you’re reading right now has been a favorite of mine ever since I started Windy Citizen in 2008. I love the site for its great think-pieces about the future of news and updates from Knight News Challenge winners. We’re excited to have a spot of our own now, and we still drop by regularly to see what’s new. For hyper-local bloggers interested in new ideas about the space, this should be a regular stop.

10. eMedia Vitals

eMedia Vitals has an old-school name and takes an old-school approach to covering tactics and strategies for growing your digital business. Editor (and co-founder of TechicallyPhilly.com) Sean Blanda turned me onto the site at SXSW last year and I’ve since found their analysis to be relevant to people working in the local news space.

OPML File and Twitter List

These are the sites I’m reading on a regular basis to keep up with what’s happening in the hyper-local space. I’m sure you may have a few favorites of your own that I omitted. If so, feel free to share them with me in the comments below or via Twitter (I’m @bradflora).

I’ve created an OPML file that you can import to add the feeds for all these sites to Google Reader. You can find it here.

And if you prefer reading your news through Twitter, I’ve created a list over on the NowSpots Twitter account that you can follow to add these folks to your Twitter feed. You can find it here.

Happy reading!

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