Tag Archives: riots

2011: the UK hyper-local year in review

In this guest post, Damian Radcliffe highlights some topline developments in the hyper-local space during 2011. He also asks for your suggestions of great hyper-local content from 2011. His more detailed slides looking at the previous year are cross-posted at the bottom of this article.

2011 was a busy year across the hyper-local sphere, with a flurry of activity online as well as more traditional platforms such as TV, Radio and newspapers.

The Government’s plans for Local TV have been considerably developed, following the Shott Review just over a year ago. We now have a clearer indication of the areas which will be first on the list for these new services and how Ofcom might award these licences. What we don’t know is who will apply for these licences, or what their business models will be. But, this should become clear in the second half of the year.

Whilst the Leveson Inquiry hasn’t directly been looking at local media, it has been a part of the debate. Claire Enders outlined some of the challenges facing the regional and local press in a presentation showing declining revenue, jobs and advertising over the past five years. Her research suggests that the impact of “the move to digital” has been greater at a local level than at the nationals.

Across the board, funding remains a challenge for many. But new models are emerging, with Daily Deals starting to form part of the revenue mix alongside money from foundations and franchising.

And on the content front, we saw Jeremy Hunt cite a number of hyper-local examples at the Oxford Media Convention, as well as record coverage for regional press and many hyper-local outlets as a result of the summer riots.

I’ve included more on all of these stories in my personal retrospective for the past year.

One area where I’d really welcome feedback is examples of hyper-local content you produced – or read – in 2011. I’m conscious that a lot of great material may not necessarily reach a wider audience, so do post your suggestions below and hopefully we can begin to redress that.

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Sentencing data update: Manchester Evening News make another splash

Since I wrote about the need for more data journalism around sentencing in August, the Manchester Evening News have been beavering away keeping track of riot sentencing data on their own patch with stories on the first 60 looters to be sentenced and the role of poverty. Last week the newspaper finally made a splash on the figures.

The collected data led to this front page story: Looters jailed straight after Manchester riots given terms 30 per cent longer than those punished later.

While another article builds up a detailed profile of the rioters with plenty of visualisation, and links to the raw data.

The MEN’s Paul Gallagher had previously told me in an email correspondence that they were expecting at least 250-300 cases to be going through the courts in total, making “enough to make a very interesting and useful dataset but not so many as to make it too big a job.

“This spreadsheet is being completed using information provided by our journalists in court. The MEN is committed to staffing every court hearing so we should be able to fill this over time. This is a trial project limited only to the riots, and I don’t know if we will do anything with other court data in future.”

At the time Paul was trying to set up a system that would see court reporters add information when they covered a case, a system that could be used to publish court data in future.

“One of the biggest problems I have found is that we can produce graphics quite easily for online using Google Fusion Tables and other tools but it is difficult to turn these into graphics that will work in print without getting a graphic designer to recreate the image.”

A couple months on Paul remarks that the project has required significant editorial resources:

“Around ten MEN journalists have either sat in court to take down details of one or more riot cases in the last three months, or have been involved in the data analysis.”

He also says the exercise has raised some questions about the use, and sharing, of court data.

“Although the names and home addresses of adult defendants are published in court reports in the media, it does not seem appropriate to include them in shared spreadsheets, or to plot them on street level maps.

“For that reason, I decided to remove the names and personal details when we plotted home addresses of defendants on a map of Greater Manchester to visualise the correlation between rioters and high levels of poverty and deprivation.

The Manchester Evening News have not decided if they will continue their data work on other non-riot-related court data, which Paul feels “begs the question why court data is not publicly available from official sources.”
“At the moment there is no other way of getting this information than to have a person sat in court at every hearing, jotting down the details in their notebook and then copying them into a spreadsheet.”

The data and visualisation was also used in last night’s Panorama: Inside The Riots. Disappointingly, the Panorama website and solitary blog post include no links to the MEN coverage or data, and the official Twitter account not only failed to link – it has failed to tweet at all in almost two weeks.

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.

Why we need open courts data – and newspapers need to improve too

Justice

Justice photo by mira66

Few things sum up the division of the UK around the riots like the sentencing of those involved. Some think courts are too lenient, while others gape at six month sentences for people who stole a bottle of water.

These judgments are often made on the basis of a single case, rather than any overall view. And you might think, in such a situation, that a journalist’s role would be to find out just how harsh or lenient sentencing has been – not just across the 1,600 or more people who have been arrested during the riots, but also in comparison to previous civil disturbances – or indeed, to similar crimes outside of a riot situation.

As Martin Belam argues:

“Really good data journalism will help us untangle the truth from those prejudiced assumptions. But this is data journalism that needs to stay the course, and seems like an ideal opportunity to do “long-form data journalism”. How long will these looters serve? What is the ethnic make-up and age range of those convicted? How many other criminals will get an early release because our jails are newly full of looters? How many people convicted this week will go on to re-offend?”

And yet, amazingly, we cannot reliably answer these questions – because it is still not possible to get raw data on sentencing in UK courts, not even through FOI. Continue reading