Backfence Acquires Bayosphere

In one of many efforts to get “Joe Average” involved with citizen journalism, Backfence has been purchased by Bayosphere. If the name Bayospher sounds familiar, that is likely because of its founder, Dan Gillmor.

An Internet startup that runs a Web site where residents of four Washington, D.C., suburbs can write and submit their own news stories has acquired another pioneer in citizen journalism, the San Francisco area’s Bayosphere.

Bayosphere’s future had been in question after its founder, Dan Gillmor, decided to devote his energies to a nonprofit organization he was starting, the Center for Citizen Media. With the acquisition by Backfence Inc., Gillmor will still write columns for Bayosphere, but the site will carry the Backfence banner.

Susan DeFife, Backfence’s chief executive, said that while Gillmor brought the vision, Backfence is able to bring the tools to make it easier for readers to submit items on local businesses, sports, events and anything else a reader might like to share.

DeFife would not disclose financial terms other than to say Gillmor and other Bayosphere investors will become shareholders in Backfence.

Backfence is one of a number of recent efforts at citizen journalism where readers and viewers become more involved in news production with the help of the Internet, camera phones and other technologies. Some efforts are spearheaded by traditional media outlets, while others are backed by stand-alone startups like Backfence.

Backfence currently runs sites for Reston, McLean and Arlington, Va., and Bethesda, Md., all near Washington. Bayosphere, which covered the San Francisco area as a whole and took on national and global issues, will evolve to focus on specific communities, starting with Palo Alto, Calif. Source: AP

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