Best Reappearing Act

EveryBlock Chicago

Critics' Picks

Once upon a time, hyperlocal news was seen as the bright new future of journalism. One of the brightest of the hyperlocal sites was EveryBlock, founded in 2007 by Naperville native Adrian Holovaty with a $1.1 million Knight Foundation grant. Unlike its main rival, AOL's Patch, it wasn't staffed by overworked and underpaid young reporters. Instead all its news came from message boards and links to public records. All at once, you could get the latest crime statistics, look for an outdoor yoga class in the park, or find out that your favorite neighborhood restaurant was about to close—and look at the business permit for the establishment slated to take its place. MSNBC took over EveryBlock in 2009 and pledged its devotion to hyperlocal news . . . until it didn't. It shut down EveryBlock in February 2013 because, in the memorable words of an NBC executive, "it wasn't a strategic fit with our growth strategy." But the dream didn't die. Comcast relaunched the site, virtually unchanged, in January. For now EveryBlock is limited to Chicago, but Comcast plans to expand it eventually. In the meantime, I, and many other Chicagoans who don't have time to hang out in the corner coffee shop all day, will be following closely to find out what's going on in our neighborhoods.