Examiner.com acquires NowPublic, becomes the elephant in the room

Citizen journalism come hyperlocal play Examiner.com has acquired Canadian CitJ site NowPublic for a sum reported to be around the $25 million mark.

Along with a global network of citizen reporters, NowPublic also owns the former Guy Kawasaki site Truemors. NowPublic was founded 2005 and took $12 million over three rounds that included Brightspark Ventures and Growthworks Capital.

Examiner.com, backed by media group The Anschutz Company has been a success story that oddly doesn’t get a lot of attention in the tech/ web blogging space. Founded off the Examiner newspapers in San Francisco and Washington, Examiner.com has grown to over 15,000 “Examiners” (writers) covering nearly 200 cities in the United States. The traffic is phenomenal: according to stats released by the company, Examiner.com now attracts more visitors that The Huffington Post, and publicly available stats back that up: Alexa rank of 508, and Quantcast 68 on direct measure.

They describe themselves as a hyperlocal play, but it’s a label applied in a broader sense of the term: Examiner.com doesn’t do neighborhoods as opposed to cities, but likewise that’s the key to the staggering growth. The site is more massive blog network, with content primarily coming from the writers as opposed to aggregation from external sites, something we’re seeing a lot of in the new wave of hyperlocal players.

Examiner.com isn’t without a little bit of controversy though: it’s well known in blogging circles that the site doesn’t pay its writers well, although compared to competitors such as Associated Content, Huliq and others, it’s towards the top of the pay scope for these sorts of sites. The one thing they do very well is support services: writers working there have told me in the past they stay for the training, support and experience, with many professing to love writing there, even when they aren’t getting paid much for it. That combination is a challenge in this space: it’s easy to pay little for writers, but keeping them around and building a business around that is a combination others have failed at in the past.

The combination of NowPublic and Examiner.com does create an elephant in the room: Examiner.com continues to grow, and if it wasn’t before, it’s now the clear leader in the citizen journalism space, one extremely well positioned to become a leading news outlet once Newspapers throw themselves off a cliff in the years ahead through the implementation of pay for view.