You Just Can’t Trust It. In Defence Of Hyperlocal, Pt 2

Continuing the series looking at the arguments made against hyperlocal. This is where we’ve got to:

  1. Hyperlocal is hyperboring  (read>>
  2. It can’t be trusted
  3. It won’t make you any money (coming soon)
  4. Nobody is doing it well (coming soon)

So let’s deal with:

2. It can’t be trusted
Lack of quality and lack of credibility are always accusations thrown at the “amateur”. But here’s the thing:

Hyperlocal is not news as we know it
Often those publishing and contributing to hyperlocal sites are not putting a story together in our conventional, media-land understanding of a story.

They are instead sharing information, gathering evidence, swapping experiences, pooling resources. Witness last weekend’s The Big Lunch as just one example. 

Will Perrin – the man behind TalkAboutLocal.org and KingsCrossEnivornment.com – comments elsewhere on this blog:

Hyperlocal content is best looked at bottom up, generated not by an abstract, detached journalist but by people on the ground who it affects. seen from that angle the trad top down issues fall away – grass roots hyperlocal content is defined by its own creation.

And yet, I think there is a role for the locally-based journalist and publisher to work hand-in-hand with the amateur, taking that raw material – and harnessing the energy and local expertise – and turning it into a water tight, double-sourced investigation. Continue reading You Just Can’t Trust It. In Defence Of Hyperlocal, Pt 2

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Hyperboring? In Defence Of Hyperlocal, Pt 1

An appearance on Radio 4’s The Media Show last week helped focus the mind. Critics, lining up against hyperlocal as a form of reporting, have four broad lines of attack.

Namely:

  1. Hyperlocal is hyperboring
  2. It can’t be trusted (Read>>)
  3. It won’t make you any money
  4. Nobody is doing it well

Over the next week or so I’m going to address each in turn, starting with:

1. Hyperlocal is hyperboring
Yes it can be. There are plenty of examples of self-indulgent navel gazing. But that’s true of traditional media. If you want self-indulgent and navel gazing, try most Sunday colour supplements.

The mistake here is to blame the platform for the message. Continue reading Hyperboring? In Defence Of Hyperlocal, Pt 1

Hyperlocal, A Rather Different Kettle Of Cocoa

To Broadcasting House for an appearance on Radio 4’s The Media Show to talk hyperlocal.

The peg – the launch of Associated Northcliffe’s Local People, a sort of social network based on locality. The premise – does hyperlocal mean hyper-boring?

In the sceptical corner (actually a radio studio in Spain where he was on holiday) was ex-Guardian editor Peter Preston.

In the ‘hyperlocal is really quite interesting, honest’ corner was Roland Bryan from Associated Northcliffe Digital and me.

You can listen to the results via the iPlayer here – the discussion starts 14’05”. Worth it if only for the first outing of the phrase “kettle of cocoa” on the BBC.

The Hyperlocal Paradox

My latest piece for Journalism.co.uk was published yesterday, Hyperlocal: Five steps to kick-start the local news revolution.

I guess it’s a mini-manifesto for what is potentially the most interesting platform for journalism in the coming years. My five points:

1. Find out what’s out there

2. Share ideas

3. Share resources

4. Share content

5. Engage government.

Simple, right? And the paradox?

The strength of hyperlocal is also its weakness – disparate projects in far-flung places.

But here’s the thing. What works in KW1 – the business model, the editorial proposition – is likely to work just as well in TR19.*

You’ll have to read the piece if you don’t know where KW1 or TR19 are…

Related: Hyperlocal: So What’s Going On In Your Backyard?

Hyperlocal: So What’s Going On In Your Backyard?

Hats off to the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism which is attempting to audit all the hyperlocal projects ongoing in the United States.

The project is led by Professor Jeff Jarvis, best known on this side of the Atlantic for his regular Guardian column and his BuzzMachine blog.

 Jarvis and his team are asking “bloggers, independent journalists, web site publishers and entrepreneurs” to complete a survey that in turn will enable them to:

find out how hyperlocal blogs and sites are doing their business today – how big they are, how big an area they cover, what’s working in advertising and what’s not.

The initiative forms part of the School’s wider New Business Models for News project.

We want to bring facts, figures, and business analysis to the debate over the future of journalism.

It’s an admirable piece of work and begs the question, what’s happening in the UK to meet this pressing challenge?

While public service broadcasting wrestles with local news delivery – and Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report merely brushes the surface of the alternative delivery debate – the proponents of hyperlocal need to seize the day.

Certainly, there are some interesting projects out there – Paul Bradshaw’s Help me Invetigate has plenty of local franchising potential, for example.

And there are some preliminary efforts to pool expertise, such as William Perrin’s Talk About Local.

But it still doesn’t feel very joined up – that’s the challenge of hyperlocal, I guess.

In my Journalism.co.uk column this week I’m going to look at the steps we need to take to kick off this revolution in local news.

Guidance, advice, suggestions very welcome.