Tag Archives: DCMS

20 recent hyperlocal developments (June-August 2011)

Ofcom’s Damian Radcliffe produces a regular round-up of developments in hyperlocal publishing. In this guest post he cross-publishes his latest presentation for this summer, as well as the background to the reports.

Ofcom’s 2009 report on Local and Regional Media in the UK identified the increasing role that online hyperlocal media is playing in the local and regional media ecology.

New research in the report identified that

“One in five consumers claimed to use community websites at least monthly, and a third of these said they had increased their use of such websites over the past two years.”

That was two years ago, and since then, this nascent sector has continued to evolve, with the web continuing to offer a space and platform for community expression, engagement and empowerment.

The diversity of these offerings is manifest in the Hyperlocal Voices series found on this website, as well as Talk About Local’s Ten Questions feature, both of which speak to hyperlocal practitioners about their work.

For a wider view of developments in this sector, you may want to look at the bi-monthly series of slides I publish on SlideShare every two months.

Each set of slides typically outlines 20 recent hyperlocal developments; usually 10 from the UK and 10 from the US.

Topics in the current edition include Local TV, hyperlocal coverage of the recent England riots, the rise of location based deals and marketing, as well as the FCC’s report on The Information Needs of Communities.

Feedback and suggestions for future editions – including omissions from current slides – are actively welcomed.

Advertisements

Hyperlocal websites? They’re just ‘tittle tattle’ says MP

The final select committee on ‘The future for local and regional media’ took place Tuesday, with Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders apparently writing off the whole of the web as being incapable of holding power to account.

Here’s some of the rather bizarre exchange with Creative Industries Minister Sion Simon, who was giving evidence before the committee (also on BBC’s Today in Parliament around 18 minutes in – worth listening to for the tone with which Sanders delivers his dismissal):

Sion Simon MP (Labour, Birmingham Erdington)
Who will go to the council? Hyper-local news-sites like Pits n Pots in Stoke on Trent will go to the council meetings – as they do. Stoke on Trent has got a successful local newspaper but it also has a very successful hyperlocal news site in Pits n Pots who, if you want to know, what’s happening in the council and behind the back stairs in the council and everything to do with local government in Stoke on Trent you’re at least as likely to go to Pits n Pots as you are to go to the Stoke Sentinel.

Adrian Sanders MP (Liberal Democrat, Torbay) – Interrupts
I’m not convinced. Continue reading

C&binet notes part 2: 10 things government can do to help local journalism

More notes from this morning’s train journey down to C&binet at the Department for Culture, Media & Sport.

The word holistic annoys me for some reason, but I can’t think of any other. Journalism’s problem is holistic; the solution is likely to be holistic as well. There is no magic bullet, so here are 10 ideas of things that government and other public bodies can do to help journalism.

  1. Journalism as volunteering – formally recognise journalism as a way to contribute to your local community: cleaning out the trash, so to speak, in a figurative sense. Provide the formal structures to support this: training, legal support, travel costs, connections. As a side-effect this can help address the Samantha Syndrome in the media: journalists increasingly coming from affluent backgrounds as they are the only ones who can afford to support themselves through internships, training etc. Make journalism a formal volunteering activity and you widen the pool of participants, while increasing media literacy.Arts funding for journalism – journalism is art. Journalism that engages particularly effectively with communities is, for me, worthy of arts funding. Let’s help that happen.
  2. Tax relief/support – on, for example, R&D. Local newspapers are sitting on a vast archive of local information that could be hugely useful if effectively digitised and an API created. Let’s help that happen.
  3. Open supply of information and data from public bodies – instead of spending the council PR budget on a local freesheet, spend part of it on streaming council meetings and providing public data that acts as a resource for professional journalists, citizen journalists, developers, startups and citizens generally.
  4. Outreach training & support – also from the council PR pot: if ‘celebrating the area’ is your objective spend money training local people and support them editorially to blog about the great and not so great things happening in their area.
  5. A Council News NetworkNick Booth’s suggestion of the BBC as a model for publicly owned news is a great one. Take editorial control over council news away from councils to a body that has independence. The BBC would be a good candidate for this.
  6. Postcode-based direct mail – If councils object to being required to advertise notices in their local paper on the ground that it doesn’t reach everyone, use direct mail through another agent. The Newspaper Club could do this very well: telling people about planning alerts, etc. based on their postcode, with the money used to subsidise other journalism.
  7. Wired cities – a perfect place for local information is the bus stop or train station – not just billboards but electronic systems that currently show bus times. Why not show other local information there? Invest in the infrastructure and improve local distribution networks for information. Put the supply of that information out to tender.
  8. VRM for power and people – Yoosk is a good model for vendor relationship management (VRM) between politicians and citizens: people post questions, politicians answer, and users vote on whether they felt the question was answered. Ultimately this is part of great journalism: interrogating power and holding power to account. The funding criteria need to avoid domination by powerful, so it might be based on, for example, the numbers of people looking at planning alerts, council meetings, engaging, voting etc.
  9. Providing efficiencies – supplying raw data is one efficiency; organisations like the BBC could provide training, platforms, kit and space, pubic organisations have distribution networks. All of these can be opened up for greater efficiency.
  10. Legal change – Libel is an enormous obstacle to true engagement with and challenging of power, particularly for news startups, and needs to be urgently addressed. Widening the Freedom of Information Act to apply to organisations who receive public money above a certain amount would be hugely useful. There are probably others you can add.

Those are the ideas I have, anyway. Anything to add?

UPDATE: FROM THE COMMENTS:

  1. Simon Clarke: “some kind of move against police harassment of journalists for spurious “security” reasons.”
  2. Paul Miller: “banning junk mail would have a pretty positive impact. It accounts for 11.5% of UK advertising spend and shifting that online and into newspapers would be a big boost to local revenues.”

What’s the future for local and regional media?

The government has launched a new inquiry into the future of local and regional media – and there’s just six weeks to have your say on the subject.

None of us (yet) have the answers to the question of new journalism business models, and the local and regional press is suffering some of the hardest hits.  But ideas and initiatives are presenting themselves everyday. And now the Culture, Media and Sport Committee is looking for views on a range of tough issues, including:

  • The impact of newspaper closures on independent local journalism and access to local information;
  • How to fund quality local journalism;
  • The appropriateness and effectiveness of print and electronic publishing initiatives undertaken directly by public sector bodies at the local level;
  • The opportunities and implications of BBC partnerships with local media;
  • Incentives for investment in local content;
  • Opportunities for “ultra-local” media services.

We’re thinking about a collective response from journalism educators and OJB readers to the key questions, coordinated from here. So to begin with, what are your ideas, links to the best think pieces you’ve read or examples you’ve seen? Do you agree with the call to relax competition laws to allow local newspaper publishers to merge? Or what about Andy Burnham’s statement that there will be no bailout for local papers.

Let’s use this as a starting point to develop a collective, crowdsourced response to the inquiry.