Yessi Bello continues the Hyperlocal Voices series with an interview with JesmondLocal‘s Ian Wylie, who decided to dabble in local journalism after taking voluntary redundancy from a national newspaper. Still viewed as a “pro-bono”, ” good thing to do” Jesmond Local has now become an integral part of the Jesmond Community.
1)Who were the people behind the blog, and what where their backgrounds?
After 15 years working for The Guardian as a reporter, features writer and finally section editor, I took voluntary redundancy in 2009, and began thinking about what I would do with the next chapter of my career. I’d been involved mostly in national newspaper and magazine journalism, so local journalism was something I hadn’t dabbled in before.
The concept of “hyperlocal” fascinated me as an area for me to explore and an opportunity for me also to “give something back”. I discovered that Newcastle University lecturer David Baines had a research interest in the subject. We met to discuss and he suggested I offer some of his students the chance to launch a hyperlocal website, which we did almost exactly a year ago. Continue reading
UPDATE: You can vote to repeal the ban on recording court proceedings here (Thanks to Alistair Kelman in the comments)
Heather Brooke is calling for a campaign to allow recording in UK courts. I agree. In the comments below, let’s talk strategy.
Meanwhile, here’s some of the background from Brooke’s related blog post:
“The simple answer is to allow tape recorders for all: no party is disadvantaged and an ‘official’ recording is there for checking. This is how it works in other countries. But this is to ignore the root objection of the courts: that they are losing control of how court proceedings are presented to the public.”
“You might like to know whether the builder you’re going to give your keys to has any convictions for theft or if the company you’re about to do business with has a report for fraud. Tough. This information is not a click of a button away. Instead you’ll have to know the details of the case before you can call up any records – even though it’s the existence of cases that you’re trying to find in the first place. It’s Catch-22. If you do know the details of the case you’re then forced to undergo a tortuous and tedious process which involves battling a raft of petty officials across a number of court offices all for the simple purpose of accessing information that is supposedly public.”
“There are three main things that would make the courts useful to the general public:
- knowing by name who is using them (the court list);
- why (the particulars of claim);
- the result (the verdict, sentence or settlement).
“Yet trying to get any, let alone all, of these is fraught with difficulty.”
So: strategy. To kick things off, I’ll give you 3 starters:
Come up with some better ideas than that, and we’re somewhere.
Meanwhile, to spread awareness of this, why not tweet about this with the hashtag #opencourts (UPDATE: Also #courtrecord thanks to @JackofKent)
Earlier this week I posted briefly on what I consider to be the most significant move for journalism by the UK government since the Freedom of Information Act. But I wanted to look more systematically at what is likely to be a huge change in the information landscape that journalists deal with…
So. In the spirit of data journalism, here is an embedded spreadsheet of the timetable of data to be released by national government, local government, and other bodies. I’ve added notes on how I feel each piece of data could be important, and any useful links – but I’d like you to add any thoughts on other possibilities. Here it is:
Meanwhile, over at Data.gov.uk, the Local Data Panel has published a post inviting comment on the format that data might be supplied in, and fields it might contain.
- As a first stage, publish the raw data and any lookup table needed to interpret it in a spreadsheet as a CSV or XML file as soon as possible. This should be put on the council’s website as a document for anyone to download. Or even published in a service such as Google Docs
- There is not yet a national approach for publishing local authority expenditure data. This should not stop publication of data in its raw, machine-readable form. Observing such raw data being used is the only route to a national approach, should one be required
- Publishing raw data will allow the panel and others to assess how that data could/should be presented to users. Sight of the data is worth a hundred meetings. Members of the panel will study the data, take part in the discussion and revise this advice.
- As a second stage, informed by the discussion, the panel and users can then give feedback about publishing data (RDF, CSV, etc) in a way that can be consistent across all local authorities involving structured, regularly updated data published on the Web using open standards.
Help Me Investigate contributor and all-round good guy Neil Houston has already responded with some very interesting points.
“You’d be surprised how many times there are some systems where it’s not totally easily to identify the payment, back to the relevant invoice (apart from a manual reconciliation), you need to know the invoice side of the transactions – as that is where the cost will be booked to (as the payment details will just be crediting cash, debiting Accounts Payable).”
Yesterday saw the publication of an incredible letter by David Cameron to government departments, including local government. It sets out a whole range of areas where data is to be released – some of it scheduled for January 2011, but some of it straight away.
You can find my thoughts about the release in this article by Laura Oliver, along with those of the likes of David Higgerson. This is probably as important an event as the passing of the FOI Act – it is more important than the launch of data.gov.uk. Note it.
Matt Wardman and I are trying to put together a map of UK blogs. Please help by entering any you know in the form below.
Six months ago Polish publishing company Polskapresse took an innovative step in response to declining sales. The company, at the time publishing six regional dailies in different parts of Poland, decided to combine them under one brand: “Polska”. Marek Miller makes an early evaluation of this project.
The Polish regional press market is divided in two. Half belongs to Media Regionalne (part of David Montgomery’s Mecom) which publishes nine regional dailies; the other half belongs to Polskapresse (part of German Verlagsgruppe Passau). The press market was divided in the way that no regional newspaper published by both publishers would compete directly on the same regional market. Continue reading
I’ve very quickly created a Yahoo! Pipes mashup for today’s council and London mayor elections in the UK. All it does at the moment is
- take the RSS feed for Tweetscan searches for ‘election’, ‘voted’, ‘voting’, ‘vote’, ‘Ken Livingstone‘ and ‘Boris Johnson‘,
- gets rid of duplicate results,
- and spits out a feed.
- UPDATE: Now it also takes feeds from Google News and Technorati searches for local election and the two london candidates
- It also filters out anything with ‘Zimbabwe’ in it, as reports on those elections were coming through.
I’d like to invite you to clone the mashup and make improvements. Or you can just suggest them here.
Some things I’d like to do are: add images; geo information and mapping; other feeds; filtering based on user input (e.g. location).
Meanwhile, here’s how the two mayoral candidates are faring on Twitter mentions according to a search on Twist:
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been turning the Online Journalism Blog into a group blog. For our first project we have taken Jo Geary’s news interactivity index, and applied it Europe-wide, creating an ‘interactivity index’ of newspapers across European countries – at the moment: the UK, Spain, Portugal, Macedonia, Hungary, Poland and Switzerland…
Not just that, but we’ve made the index itself interactive. Specifically, Nicolas Kayser-Bril has created this PHP object which allows you to compare two selected newspapers or countries.
The team so far is as follows: UK and France: Nicolas Kayser-Bril; Switzerland: Nico Luchsinger; Portugal and Spain: Alex Gamela; Poland: Marek Miller; Macedonia: Darko Buldioski; Hungary: Molnar Emil; Netherlands: Wilbert Baan.
If you want to help add information on one or more of your country’s newspapers you can do so here – you’ll need to ask Nicolas for a password: nicolas (at) observatoiredesmedias.com.
More newspapers will continue to be added, and there are other graphical tricks to come.
You can also embed this widget on your own blog with the following code:
<iframe src=”http://tinyurl.com/5c9vmy” frameborder=”0″ height=”605″ scrolling=”no” width=”415″></iframe>