Backfence Inc. — an internet startup that operates four “hyperlocal” citizens’ media web sites in the Washington, D.C., area — will be rolling out five sites in the Bay Area, the first of which will start in Palo Alto in May. Backfence also announced that it has acquired former Mercury News columnist Dan Gillmor’s Bayosphere blog site, where he attempted to get web surfers to become citizen journalists. Backfence launched its first sites in McLean and Reston, Va., in May 2005 and has since added sites in Bethesda, Md., and Arlington, Va. The sites consist entirely of content contributed by readers including news coverage, event listings, reviews and ratings of local businesses. The startup hopes to make money by selling ads on the sites. Backfence President and CEO Susan W. DeFife said in a news release that Backfence chose to launch its first Bay Area hyperlocal site in Palo Alto because “it is the linchpin of Silicon Valley. Its broad collection of community organizations, strong business and commercial base, high Internet penetration and its population base are the kinds of things we look for in deciding where Backfence should open local sites. We’re looking forward to becoming an important part of the Palo Alto community and then launching additional sites in Bay Area communities over the next few months.” [E&P: Backfence acquires Bayosphere, will launch ‘hyperlocal’ web sites] [Merc’s SiliconBeat: Backfence picks up Gillmor’s blog, expands into SF Bay Area]

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