MSNBC.com just announced that it has acquired EveryBlock, a 'hyperlocal' news and information site that has been publishing and aggregating data and news stories for 16 American cities for the last two years. EveryBlock aggregates local news stories, but it also makes publicly available information like data about restaurant inspections and crimes available in an easy to read format. EveryBlock had been funded by a two-year grant from the Knight Foundation. This is MSNBC.com's second major acquisition, having bought the social news site Newsvine in October 2007.
Neither MSNBC nor EveryBlock released specifics about the price of the acquisition, but the site's founder, Adrian Holovaty, and his team will remain based in Chicago. According to MSNBC.com's president Charlie Tillinghast, EveryBlock will remain an independent brand, though MSNBC will surely try to integrate some of EveryBlock's data into the main MSNBC.com site, which doesn't feature a lot of local news at this point.
Local EveryBlock sites are currently available for Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. While a number of other companies, including Outside.in, for example, also aggregate local news from blogs and mainstream news sources, EveryBlock stands out because of how well it displays local information from public records. For example, the site aggregates data about everything from building permits and police calls to liquor license status changes and excavation permits - data that is generally hidden away on government websites that are often hard to navigate.