Wilson and Horton has launched the first five of what it says will be many localised news and information sites under the MyTown banner.
The sites now online offer local news, weather and online opinion forums for Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Similar sites are planned for most regions of New Zealand.
The launch follows up on a national strategy first mooted in July 1998, when W&H officially ended a strategic partnership with Xtra that had delivered little.
Chantal Dunbar, general manager of Wilson and Horton Interactive says MyTown gives people "access to a locally focussed Web site bringing together the best of news from the world wide web with news and information from their own local area."
The CEO of Regional and Community Newspapers for Wilson and Horton, Martin Simons casts the initiative as part of a "long and rich tradition" of local newspapers providing a sense of identity and community. "We are now adding a whole new medium and bringing the benefits of the electronic environment to regional news."
Simons says MyTown will not only serve locals, but help keep New Zealanders away from home in touch with local news.
MyTown product manager Anna Curnow, who worked on the similarly-conceived "Live" Communities project at Xtra - which is thought to have lost favour with Xtra management and never got past Auckland, despite a swathe of regional 'Live' domain names being registered - says stage two of the MyTown project will see local newspapers in each area given the mechanism to submit both editorial content and classified ads themselves.
"We've built the template and are supporting the sites technical requirements, but the content is going to be entirely open to and in fact driven by the regional papers and communities," says Curnow.
"Each regional MyTown site has a direct request in the opinion forums for people to tell us what they want in their town. So watch this space, MyTown is a dynamic and developing concept."