Last July, we launched a feature called “My Favorite Place,” in which we celebrate the local places that fill our hearts and make Baristaville special. Last week, we helped spearhead a campaign called “Authentically Local” — which aims to preserve what is special in every community by celebrating, and supporting, those businesses and institutions that are home grown, not planted there by a large corporation. You can read our organization’s philosophy statement (which I wrote) here. Support our campaign by liking our Facebook page here.
Our slogan is “Local Doesn’t Scale.”
That is the opposite of the philosophy of a news organization you may have noticed called Patch, which publishes in six of the seven towns we publish in (not Glen Ridge), and is scaling up to publish in 1,000 towns nationally. Even though Patch is owned by AOL, and is the cornerstone of AOL’s own rebranding campaign, Patch leaves out its AOL affiliation on all of its branding and “about” pages.
But AOL is not the only big corporation trying to cash in on the $100 billion local advertising market that has recently emerged as the 2011 equivalent of the California Gold Rush. Corporations like Google, Apple, Groupon and Living Social are also making plays for it. In addition, hundreds of mobile apps are sprouting up to scrape data off the web and deliver it to cellphones, calling themselves local. But as you can see in this example from one called Goby, the data is not very reliable. Of the six “Entertainment and Nightlife” spots Goby delivered to me on my front porch recent, two were geocoded wrong (the Famished Frog is in Morristown, not Montclair, and Bombay Bistro is in Montclair, CA not NJ), two were defunct (Red Cheetah and Diva) and one, Westminster, while a local theater venue is not correctly classified under nightlife. Only one of the six, Egan and Sons, really fit the criteria.
The Authentically Local campaign seeks to illuminate the difference between authentic local businesses — businesses that speak to what’s local rather than conform to a cookie-cutter mold.
Although local media sites like ours are the initial founders of the campaign, we intend to include bricks-and-mortar places as well — and invite them to join us in the movement to preserve what is authentically local.