I recently came across outside.in, a self-described "hyperlocal news and information service" that helps you "get news for the places and neighborhoods you really care about." The site tracks 35,312 towns and neighborhoods. You can either enter a post code or the name of the neighborhood you want to get stories about. Results are sorted by date and tags.
Neighborhoods can also be searched by categories such as 'Arts and Culture', 'Bars and Clubs' and 'Education.' This will result in an alphabetically sorted list of places with news and blog posts about them.
If you want to get even more local, you can use the radar function. It's customized to exactly where you are and what’s going on right around you. Enter a location and you'll see everything happening right around you: Blog posts, news stories, discussion posts, and Twitter updates.
The site can be a bit messy. You can't search local places by tags, just by categories. Why, for example, isn't there simple search for a 'news' tag? The category search also needs be refined, e.g. the robbery of a pharmacy was listed under services...
These little issues aside I think the basic premise of the site is great: Being informed about wherever you are.
Why rely on the local press when you can utilize a multitude of information? All the more, given that some local markets are completely dominated by one media conglomerate and its products. Breaking monopolies on information is certainly a good thing.
To utilize the site's potential even better I'd suggest the implementation of a democratic catalyst – aka a voting system a la Digg – as this would bring noteworthy local stories to the attention of more readers, a function the traditional press still excels in.
The site should also be optimized for mobile devices to exploit its potential best; another possibility would be an app for the iPhone which instantly let's you know what's happening in your hotel's/ business partner's/ friend's neighborhood. Wherever, whenever. GPS detection would even make make entering a post code redundant.
You could combine the service with a program like Calibre. Calibre has built-in ‘recipes’ to download articles from news outlets' RSS feeds to present them in a much more streamlined e-book type format, and can then transfer this information to mobile readers. By this, the articles can also be consumed offline.
Imagine customized RSS-feed turned into your own personalized local newspaper complete with all the sections you'd normally expect from a press outlet. From politics to sports, complete with illustrations, except with more updates.
The potential of sites like outside.in is tremendous. No wonder the future looks tough for the traditional press.