Monthly Archives: May 2009

Letter to Govt. pt6: “How to fund quality local journalism”

The following is the last part of a series of responses to the government inquiry into the future of local and regional media. We will be submitting the whole – along with blog comments – to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. This post, by Alex Lockwood, looks at:

“How to fund quality local journalism”

The bottom has fallen out of the traditional publishing business model–and with it goes the hefty dividends expected by shareholders (e.g. £48.4m in 2008 for the Trinity Mirror Group). The future of local quality journalism can only remain with the current crop of regional newspaper publishers if they radically change their expectations, and innovate.

That might not happen. If it doesn’t, they will die off, and the future of quality local journalism will take a huge – but not definitive – blow. Then the future lies with new initiatives and the local communities themselves – passionate and entrepreneurial people, only some of whom will be journalists. What about local council initiatives to publish newspapers and local information? That’s not the way to go – covered in Part 3.

But how to fund it? Here are eight suggestions for the future of local journalism funding: Continue reading

Letter to Govt pt5: Opportunities for “ultra-local” media services

The following is the fifth of a series of responses to the government inquiry into the future of local and regional media. Andy Price looks at the opportunities for ultra-local media services. Blog comments will be submitted to the inquiry as well. If you wish to add a blog post to the submission please add a link to one of the OJB posts – a linkback will be added at the end.

Opportunities for “ultra-local” media services

Over the last few years one of the few, if not the only positive development in the regional press has been the dramatic growth of “ultra-local” or hyper local news. Often this is in the form of online participatory journalism, mixing traditional professionally produced news with a wide range of user generated content.

This has two major benefits. It grows significant traffic to newspaper websites, offering vital opportunities for revenue generation and develops the civic and democratic role of the media by allowing new avenues for discussion and debate, enhancing the local public sphere and maintaining a plurality of perspectives. It also widens and flattens the ‘market’ of news production, creating a new environment that integrates citizens as news producers in an entirely original and empowering way.

Looking at the existing geographical franchises of most regional publishers it is often the case that the local newspaper website is the only local digital platform that offers both participation and discussion of issues of civic interest. As well as the independent coverage of issues of relevance and significance to the citizen. Continue reading

Crowdsourcing thoughts on council newspapers: #councilpapers

The previous two posts on the role of local authorities in regional news sparked a bit of crowdsourcing on Twitter: “Do you think your council newspaper is worth having?” I asked. The responses, tagged #councilpapers, can be seen at this Twitter search. Below you will find a Wordle cloud of tagged tweetsand a Twickie compilation of the first dozen or so responses.

In addition, Adrian Short suggested people bookmark council papers on Delicious with the tag ‘councilpapers’ – you can see these here. If yours isn’t listed, please add it. Continue reading

Letter to Govt. pt3 extended: Should council news operations be run like the BBC?

As part of the OJB’s response to  the government’s inquiry into the future of local and regional media, Nick Booth looks at the role of local authorities in regional journalism. Blog comments will be submitted as well.

I talk to a lot of people who work in council communications departments. They’re all conscious that the regional press is in trouble. If they’ve not recently lost a local paper they’ve certainly seen local journalists lose their jobs.

They consistently tell me one thing: “Because there are fewer reporters it’s easier to get coverage. Those who are left are really grateful for the stuff we give them. More and more they run it verbatim”. Continue reading