This website is an initiative of J-Lab.

Who's Blogging

Michelle Ferrier

MICHELLE FERRIER Dr. Michelle Ferrier is an associate professor in the iMedia graduate program at Elon University in North Carolina. She is interested in the intersection of community advocacy, education and journalism.

Visit Locally Grown

Project Blog: Women’s Community News Franchise

This project sets out to create a complete infrastructure, to be franchised, for those who want to launch hyperlocal news sites. Services will include a Web platform, software development, market analysis, some content, and legal and marketing assistance. Such an infrastructure, says former editor Michelle Ferrier, will permit citizen journalists and community members to "focus on what they are most passionate about - building their community conversation through good local information and networking."

Sunny News for LocallyGrown

Thursday, November 10, 2011, a hyperlocal, hypertopical online community about local food founded by Elon University Professor Michelle Ferrier has expanded to Florida, opening its first franchise site in Tampa Bay.

Ferrier came to Elon from Florida, where she developed and managed a hyperlocal online community for a mid-size newspaper. From the lessons learned, she pitched the idea of a community news franchise to J-Lab and the New Media Women Entrepreneurs program. She was one of three grant awardees in 2009 to receive $10,000 in startup funds from the McCormick Foundation-funded program. launched in April 2010.

She will be working with Dana Villamagna, M.S.J., a Tampa Bay journalist and author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Eating for Kids."

"I'm really excited to work with Michelle on this project. I think local is the future not only for food, but also for media," Villamagna said. "The more we get to know each other and our communities, the more vibrant our societies become. I love food and I love journalism and I think it will be a great community building project." has also received recent press from The Patterson Foundation, the Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Columbia Journalism Review on the unique hyperlocal, hypertopical cooperative model.

The Patterson Foundation New Media Journalism blog

Reynolds Journalism Institute Block by Block Community

Columbia Journalism Review News Frontier Database

Ferrier plans to expand the local food community concept to other cities nationwide and is in search of local foodies interested in bringing the project to their community. She is also seeking partnerships with hyperlocal news operators seeking evergreen food/eco content for their audiences.

"While we provide hyperlocal content to our readers, we also have an abundance of stories and recipes that help raise awareness about local food and sustainability," said Ferrier. "We'd like to syndicate some of this geography-neutral content to other hyperlocal news operations and partners."

For more information about, contact Michelle Ferrier at


   • Posted by Michelle Ferrier on 11/10 at 11:21 AM

Locally Grown News featured by The Patterson Foundation

Thursday, November 03, 2011

November 3, 2011

Locally Grown News publisher Michelle Ferrier was featured in a blog post by the New Media Journalism initiative, associated with The Patterson Foundation. Ferrier's "hyper-local," "hyper-topical" model for her news site fits into the New Media Journalism initiative's goal of promoting networks of engaged citizens.

"The idea of building networks to help build community is a key part of our work at The Patterson Foundation. We see the opportunities for what is learned in one network to inform others, a process that both helps build better practices and lets us all learn from what doesn’t work," the post reads.

Ferrier focuses on her topic of local foods and healthy lifestyles, detailing how her market is niche, yet successful.

Read the full blog post here.

   • Posted by Michelle Ferrier on 11/03 at 01:10 PM