I think almost everyone can agree that pageviews are important for any news site. The more pageviews you have, the more of a splash you’re making — and the more you can charge for advertising.
Nevertheless, for local sites, some pageviews are better than others.
Thus the cake analogy. Think of pageviews from within your coverage area as cake mix, and pageviews from outside your coverage area (such as those sent via CNN.com or Fark) as the frosting. Sure, you can bake a small cake with twice as much frosting, and it will still taste really, really good — but eventually you’ll get sick from all the sugar. (I’m looking at you, Sprinkles — your cupcakes are amazing, but I can never eat more than one.)
If your cake, however, is mostly cake and not frosting, more people will eat it, and you can eat more without getting sick.
Why local pageviews? Well, Bob’s Coffee Shop downtown is going to be more interested in advertising on a site that many people from the area are visiting; its owners don’t care about someone 3,000 miles away. And, yes, I realize that ad-targeting software can keep the 3,000-mile-away visitor from seeing Bob’s ad, but that’s not the point.
To use a cliche, with local visitors you can have your cake and eat it, too.