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Archive for the ‘blogs’ tag

A mini series of hyperlocal success case studies

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Last updated: Jan 17

One of the great things about working with Talk About Local is meeting so many enthusiastic, knowledgeable and passionate people who run hyperlocal websites and blogs.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share some of those stories on the TAL blog and I’ll link to them here as well.

The first one I published today looks at the work of Annette Albert in the W14 postcode area of London. She reports from and campaigns for that area tirelessly but doesn’t consider what she does to be journalism.

2. Creating a village in Caldmore – how the Caldmore Village Festival team re-invented an area of Walsall.

3. Trumpeting the success of The Crickdale Bugle - some of the daily dilemmas faced by a one-man band publisher in Wiltshire.

4. Creating a living archive in Wolverton – the challenges for volunteers in sorting, understanding, digitising and archiving donated community material.

5. Shining a light on the democratic process in Kington – how a dispute over Christmas lights ended up shaping the make-up of a council.

Written by sarahhartley

January 3rd, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Things to do before 2011 ends, 2 : Update blogroll and RSS reader

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Help! The blogroll on the right of this page, and the trusty RSS subscriptions, which provide my daily dose of news from so many journalism innovators, commentators and general experts needs a shot in the arm.

Who’s the must read for 2012? Feel free to promote yourself or another via the comments below. Big noises and thoughtful occasionals all equally welcome. I’m looking forward to following in 2012.

Written by sarahhartley

December 26th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Former Channel M boss to talk about experience

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Manchester media watchers will be interested to hear that former Channel M boss Mark Dodson will be talking about his experiences of local television at a major conference tomorrow.

City University London’s conference on Local Television has attracted big name speakers to discuss future provision now that the issue is in the spotlight again after culture secretary Jeremy Hunt’s proposals for local or even, hyperlocal, channels across the UK. This itininery detailed at View Magazine describes a session called Local Television-the story so far;

“A conversation with conference attendees who’ve worked in local TV, past and present. These include Philip Graf (formerly Chief Executive of Trinity plc, operators of Channel One Liverpool, then CEO of Trinity Mirror, now Deputy Chair of Ofcom) David Dunkley Gyimah (ex-Channel One London) Mark Dodson (ex-Channel M Manchester), Helen Philpot (Channel 7 Lincolnshire), David Lowen (ex-Local Broadcasting Group), and Daniel Cass (SixTV).”

Dodson, who left MEN Media at the point of its sale to Trinity Mirror, was the mastermind of the Manchester-based channel which earned praise from Hunt when he was a shadow spokesman.

The London conference, which also includes appearances from Kelvin McKenzie and Stewart Purvis is Friday 5 November 5 2010 at The Performance Space, College Building, City University London, St John’s Street, EC1V 4PB.

Meanwhile today another event looking at the future of local tv is taking place in Norwich. The 1000Flowers event (so named after this famous Clay Shirky quote)  has also attracted some Greater Manchester interest with both Nigel Barlow from Insidethe M60 and John Eccles from Oldham College and SaddleworthNews attending.

But while the topic under discussion may be the same, organiser Rick Waghorn explains the entirely different approach.

“1000Flowers aims to bring together some of the brightest and the best thinkers and doers in this local space… to find inspiration amongst those who look at the world from the bottom up and not the top down.”

1000 Flowers is at 112-114 Magdalen Street NR3 1JD Norwich and can be followed using the hashtag #1000flowers on Twitter.

How can hyperlocals and the mainstream media work better together?


In some areas a thorny issue and one I’ve been asked to help explore at Saturday’s London Neighbourhoods Online Unconference.

This event will be the first opportunity that many community sites and blogs from across the capital have had to meet offline and get together to explore issues of mutual concern.

But of course many of their issues will be repeated up and down the country too.

So I’m asking hyperlocal site owners, community news publishers and neighbourhood bloggers, wherever you are – what issues do you have with mainstream media? How would you like to see things move forward?

You’re welcome to help with some input into this session even if you’re not going to be present (or London-based) by letting me know here.

I will also update this blog after the event to share what comes out from the session with you.

Topics I’m thinking about that might be of interest so far are;

  • How newspapers are structured i.e. who to contact and how.
  • What happens when things go wrong, how complaints are dealt with.
  • Copyright and linking. Good practice and things to take into account.

Looking back at the live blog I was involved in at the, TAL unconference in Leeds in April, the session on big media was dominated by questions around content payment and problems with the lifting of content. Are those still big issues for you?

Please do let me know what you think and feel free to share any experiences in this area.

Written by sarahhartley

September 23rd, 2010 at 6:30 pm

MEN reporter V hyperlocals


Blogging lesson one: Never walk away from a debate

An interesting debate is taking place today on one of the Manchester Evening News blogs. Or more accurately, a debate was started but now the conversation is all of a twitter because the unmoderated comments are sitting in the ether somewhere waiting to be published.

The spark of controversy is David Ottewell’s assertions about hyperlocal news sites;

“Too often, though, these sites disappoint. They end up simply regurgitating press releases, or ripping off stories from local newspapers, because they are one-man bands run by amateurs who don’t have the time, resources, or sometimes skills to dig out the news.

“Often you’ll find the authors of these site blur the lines between news and commentary. Instead of finding exclusives, and dealing with them responsibly (by giving right or reply, say, and checking all facts are correct), they simply put their own heavy spin on other people’s stories. This isn’t ‘doing’ news, hyperlocal or otherwise. It’s commentary. And it is far less valuable. That’s what CP Scott meant when he said “Comment is free, but facts are sacred”. Finding the news is hard. Talking about it is easy.”

Provocative stuff and one that I didn’t want to let lie unchallenged so I responded an hour ago to say;

“Well done on voicing support for the Salford Star David, hopefully the MEN will follow the story through and give it some support too. However, your (probably) link bait assertion about what hyperlocal sites do ‘too often’ shouldn’t be left unchallenged. There’s heaps of sites up and down the country doing the sort of scrutiny you should applaud and unearthing stories of genuine importance to their communities – and that’s the point ‘their communities’. Maybe those stories don’t appeal to your professionalised view of journalism? I know not. Rather than generalise about these sites, perhaps some credit where it’s due and then name names if you have examples where churnalism is going on rather than tarring everyone with the same brush.”

And this is what I’m still seeing;

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

It’s very possible and reasonable that David’s just stepped outside on his day off  – perhaps he could leave a message to say so. But now the twitterati is somewhat indignant at having the opportunity for response closed off. Only it’s not. Ooops……….

(btw, any delays in posting comments on this blog will be caused by me driving home so don’t say you’ve not been warned!)

Written by sarahhartley

June 18th, 2010 at 3:46 pm

PCSOs recruited to newspaper hyperlocal initiative


Brighton’s Argus is to tap into the city’s network of PCSOs to provide content for its network of hyperlocal websites – blogging their beat you could say.

Web editor Jo Wadsworth told me that the officers will be working alongside students that have also been recruited to cover stories for the 25 sites.

After training from Jo, the community police officers will be able to upload their appeals and news directly to the sites and she’s also hoping they’ll develop into forums similar to one currently running in Preston Park.

As reported in the Press Gazette this morning, the newspaper has been working with the training organisation Journalist Works, activity which has been going on for over a year with the students pitching in material to the websites for the past six months.

The contributions are unpaid and are in many ways treated as an extension of the sort of work experience commonly on offer across local newspapers, the difference being that the blogs allow those participating a greater sense of ownership of the project.

To that end, the bloggers will receive traffic stats and other analytics plus training seminars on practical skills and going offline with social events is in the pipeline for next year.

The content expected will largely be text and pictures although the students are already creating weekly video vox pops (the latest here) and moving activity into social networks including Twitter and Facebook.

See one of the hyperlocal sites in action here.

Written by sarahhartley

November 5th, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Journalists? Bloggers? Citizens? Who are these people?


Talking about local

Talking about local

This weekend’s first unconference event for those running local community websites raised some fascinating issues – not least in areas of ethics and access.

Bringing together people from across the UK to share skills, knowledge and experience meant Talk About Local 09 quickly revealed some of the issues for these self-publishers, community activists, bloggers and journalists.

And how these people are considered lies at heart of these issues – what do we call someone who’s taken it on themselves to start a website for the local community and how should they be treated?

It was clear from listening to their experiences that there’s no consensus on this.  At the one extreme, local councils had denied access and even been accused of making late-night pressuring calls to remove material, while at the other end of the scale, some more enlightened council press officers treated the new news sources in the same way as the established local newspaper.

As I pointed out in The Guardian piece on this issue, the governing body the National Association for Local Authorities is reviewing its stance, but one thing’s for sure, the authorities are not moving quickly enough to properly reflect the reality of the changed local news landscape.

One of the participants in Saturday’s event thinks the issue is one of perception of who brings ‘the truth’, as a posting on the blog Culturing Stuff says;

“Just lately it seems as though every institution we hold dear, has some kind of skeletal defect waiting to be discovered if we decide to open the cupboard door. So with this in mind let’s revert back to the point… How come blogging is blogging and the news is THE NEWS (all official and truthful) and is Bloggin seen as a lesser being, just because the format has no established rules or code of conduct?”

All this appears to lead us back to one of the debates circulating last week about transparency and it is perhaps that, in the end, which will provide the measure of whether something is regarded as credible or truthful by the authorities currently keeping the gate of information sources.

Any journalists – or council press officers – want to comment?

* See more pictures at the Flickr pool for Tal09 and dip into the day’s debates with this Tweetdoc.

Written by sarahhartley

October 5th, 2009 at 8:08 am

Mainstream media and the Fifth Estate

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The impact social media has on journalism, and journalists, has been put under the spotlight with the launch of a study by Nic Newman.

The BBC journalist looked at five different mainstream news organisations and concluded that social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook together with a rise in citizen journalism had formed a ‘Fifth Estate’.

Borrowing the phrase from the work of academic William Dutton, he said this Fifth Estate would not replace mainstream media but instead was complementary to it.

“Each party is beginning to understand its place in a complex new eco-system of news and information. The mainstream media monitors a wide range of sources, including the Fifth Estate. “But as the timeline of stories is compressed, it can be argued that there is an even greater need for traditional journalistic skills of sorting fact from fiction; selecting key facts for a mass audience.”

During last night’s debate hosted by the BBC, Newman introduced his study to a panel which included Meg Pickard of The Guardian and Kate Day of The Telegraph in front of an invited audience of journalists, broadcasters and academics.

He said there were three main points he wanted to make; 1. The revolution is real and relevant to journalism; 2. It was worth noting that mainstream news organisations were busy waking up to social media and 3. They no longer had to apologise, they could operate in these areas on their own terms.

His research focussed on the activities of the BBC, The Guardian, The Telegraph, New York Times and CNN as well as individual journalists. The BBC’s Robert Peston was quoted as being “hugely enthusiastic” about his blog which he believes has been instrumental in helping to explain a complex story while The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss explains her vast Twitter following as being the result of a level of personal interaction.

But Newman concludes his chapter on changing journalistic practice by noting that actually, little has changed. “But so far at least, the use of new tools has not led to any re-write of the rule book – just a few tweeks around the edges. “As with so many aspects of the internet, social media are providing a useful extra layer of functionality, enabling stories to be told in new ways, not changing the heart of what journalists do. ‘Same values, new tools’, sums up the core thinking in most newsrooms”.

* The rise of social media and its impact on mainstream journalism by Nic Newman is a working paper produced in conjunction with the University of Oxford and Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Written by sarahhartley

October 1st, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Is your newspaper too sexy for its council?


For anyone following the ongoing row over council ‘newspapers’, this week has brought out issues which get to the heart of the matter.

Leaving the question of revenue aside for a while, the argument essentially goes like this;

The editors: We provide fair, accurate and, most importantly, unbiased coverage of what goes on in the local corridors of power.
Peter Barron’s column admitting to feeling a “warm glow” on reading about the Cornish county council scrapping its free monthly magazine summarises well.

The councillors: Local papers don’t provide a suitable level of coverage and are only interested in knocking stories.
Darlington councillor Nick Wallis’ broadside on the “one-eyed nature of the local press” sums this view up neatly.

But what of the readers? Are they getting the important information on decisions taken in their names in town halls across the country – from either source?

Some of the responses to Roy Greenslade’s article on the subject make for uncomfortable reading:

“I agree with Roy in theory, but in practice my local paper is unreadable and full of syndicated crap.

“And incidentally, the ‘pillar of democracy’ argument rings a tad hollow when you have five local papers and the press desk at council meetings is still sometimes empty,”

“I don’t buy my own local newspaper in this part of London because it’s very downmarket – it hasn’t responded at all to the changing demographic of the area”.

etc. etc. you get the picture and as HoldTheFrontPage has also pointed out to me, there’s more comments in the same vein on their posting here.

Which has left me wondering what the truth of the situation is. Personally I’d consider it a serious attack on democracy if the idea of ‘matter of record’ ends up becoming too unsexy to be worthwhile in the very publications we rely on to be our eyes and ears in the community.

Previously the bedrock of any local paper’s coverage, it would be interesting to know how many pages the average local paper now devotes to such reporting and what measures are in place to ensure it isn’t now put at risk by diminishing resources and office-bound reporting staff.

Maybe the power of the interwebs could be harnessed to carry out a snapshot survey of exactly what council coverage is currently being published in local papers.

A survey could work in the manner of a meme, with bloggers across the UK picking one day (or week if the enthusiasm for this is there) and looking at their local paper to quantify how many page leads, picture stories, single columns etc. deal with local authority decisions.

If you’d like to join me on something like this, let me know via the comments below.

Written by sarahhartley

August 28th, 2009 at 12:51 pm

links for 2009-08-10

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  • Edinburgh Fringe venue directors have called on audiences to “Twitter” about shows they have seen, to try to combat a cut in the number of reviewers.

    The recession is being blamed for newspapers and other publications sending fewer reporters to shows.

  • BBC journalists mainly see blogs as a way to expand on stories they are working on for broadcast and write about news that is had to discuss on TV or radio in a more personal and conversational style. But they still have to follow BBC guidelines on reporting, and not let their commitment to impartiality drop due to the informal nature of a blog.
  • Do you have to start a career in London to progress to the top there? Nobody seems to move across the border after establishing themselves. Perhaps those running shop in London assume that our career experience in Scotland in limited due to the teeny tiny size of our national media. Are they right? Is that fair? I worry that there may be an element of truth in this accusation. You wouldn’t let someone run Cadbury’s just because they can turn a profit at the local sweet shop.
  • In other words FriendFeed is now a vessel for Twitter to be poured into. If anything Facebook retains its status as a real-time platform, as least from this user’s perspective. I certainly had more response from my Facebook friends to the news of Twitter’s Failwhale that on Friendfeed, but then it’s a better known platform in London.

    And another thing – I suddenly miss short URLs! Who knew I’d miss that!?

Written by sarahhartley

August 10th, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Posted in Journalism

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