Today sees the launch of The Guardian’s ‘Local’ news service and I for one think it can only be a positive step forward in providing a solution to the ‘local news is dying (what do we do about it?)’ debarcle. The idea behind this ‘local’ initiative is to provide a platform for local communities to view news and information online about the area they live in. Not such a ‘new’ idea I hear you say?
Well true that may be, but I don’t think there really needs to be anything blindingly new. Communities still want all the things their local newspaper offers/did offer them and it appears that these local blogs will be able to plug the gap where papers are dwindling out. Sure, they will bring so much more than their print friends ever did – audio, video, podcasts, map locations etc etc and so I think the phrase ‘don’t fix what isn’t broken’ could prove true.
Initially a pilot experiment in three UK locations – Leeds, Cardiff and Edinburgh – the local blogs will be the ‘nutured pets’ of a new wave of journalist, the beatbloggers. Tom Allan (Edinburgh), Hannah Waldram (Cardiff) and John Baron (Leeds) have been recruited by the Guardian to oversee the primary community blogs. I do hope that their outlook to adopt a ‘community-based approach to newsgathering’ bears fruit as I think this is what will attract communities to engage with the project – like their trusty old weekly free-sheet.
Anyway, enough of the rambling. Just a final thought, I’ll be following the progress of the Guardian Local and will be interested to see the response of the community. Looking towards my final year project, I feel that local and hyperlocal news platforms could provide an interesting and rewarding media development for us journalists, users and consumers alike.