As the minutes tick by before the deadline (why do journalists always leave things to the last minute?) I’ve submitted a few thoughts to the BBC consultation about partnerships with hyperlocal operators. This is what I’ve said – if you’re reading it today (30 Sept) there’s still just about time to get a response in.
Please find below my thoughts on the BBC hyperlocal consultation but firstly can I express my appreciation that this consultation is taking place at all. For too long the hyperlocal and independent media sector has been sidelined and been operating on a very uneven playing field where the so the consultation is a welcome intervention. I hope it proves fruitful.
I’ve addressed some the points which resonated most with me as a journalist and hyperlocal publisher as follows.
1. External linking.
Being credited for work produced and having the exposure to BBC audiences would be a very welcome (long overdue) development. It raises an interesting point in my locality which may also arise for other parts of the country. In terms of radio and online, my local site The RichmondNoticeboard, is served by BBC Tees and BBC York. For television it’s BBC Look North. Where would the links appear – and how would cross linking be achieved?
2. Being able to utilise BBC video or audio content.
Having licensed BBC clips could be a useful enhancement although is likely to be fairly rare in my area in reality as BBC don’t actually cover the area very often. Where material is produced I would prefer the actual footage – rushes would be fine – ahead of any ‘talking heads’ type of content in order to be able re-make and re-package the content. However if producer ownership would prevent that happening, ‘locked down’ completed clips would be an acceptable starting point for testing out content sharing.
3. Including hyperlocal providers in training and events.
If the BBC is to fulfil its public remit in developing its media partnership work then this would be essential. The training element could be extremely useful as it can be expensive for hard-pressed independents to access the latest knowledge. The wider benefits generated from creating links and professional connections across the different media operators in a given locality could also reap far bigger rewards.
I hope that all local BBC teams can be made aware of hyperlocals operating in their area and that they will help to promote the updated register of hyperlocal sites which we at Talk About Local are helping Carnegie UK to publish.
5. The 100 local court and council reporters proposal.
I know this wasn’t strictly within the scope of the hyperlocal consultation but I’d like you to consider it within the developments. It wasn’t clear in the recent Charter Review announcement of this aspect whether hyperlocal operators will benefit from this scheme alongside the (reluctant) mainstream media. I would urge you to ensure this is the case. As well as being recipients of the material produced by this new pool of journalists, I would also hope that hyperlocal operators could pitch for the contracts where appropriate. I was also concerned that rural areas might miss out on the new service with it being limited to just 100 journalists. It would be useful to see how the locations will be selected for coverage with safeguards built in to avoid a purely metropolitan service.
Thanks again for engaging in the hyperlocal sector and I look forward to seeing the outcome in November.