This word – hyperlocal- has been bouncing around my head for quite a while now and a few things I’ve read today have got the cogs turning. As I’ve started to infiltrate the ‘social media’ network here in Birmingham and across the country, it seems everyone’s talking about it.
Recently appointed beatblogger for Guardian Local Cardiff, Hannah Waldram posted a piece this morning entitled ‘How the j-school students are taking control’. She talks about how the rising of hyperlocal sites is opening up new opportunities for journalism students to get involved and make their mark on the latest industry band-wagon. Referring to an interesting article by Josh Halliday – ‘The future belongs to the doers’ – it seems the interest in all things local means that us journalism-wannabes need to catch a slice of the action NOW.
Having recently attended the Independently Funded News Consortia talks in the North East, Josh’s advice for students:
if you’re a j-student not producing local content, start producing local content. Get your mates and do hyperlocal
Through networking recently, I have found several examples of hyperlocal working well. Close to home, The Lichfield Blog is providing a news platform for the city and nearby town of Burntwood. The reason behind it? The blog says:
Right from the very beginning, the site has been about providing a service for people across Lichfield and Burntwood that didn’t exist. Other media there may well be, but other media that regularly updates every day and doesn’t take a snobbish approach to exactly what ‘news’ is? No, I couldn’t find any either. And our little site has clearly got people thinking, be it the evolution of our sister site (although unconnected other than the idea behind it) the Tamworth Blog to the coverage we’ve had from national media.
And I think it’s that essence of ‘let’s talk about our local community – get involved’ as opposed to ‘this is the news – I am the journalist here’ which hyperlocal platforms offer, is what is making them such a success. Following in the footsteps of our trusted local weekly paper, communities feel like they have a news source they can trust, contribute to and become involved in the ‘news-making process’ themselves.
Grounds Birmingham is another example of how hyperlocal is bringing communities together under the social media umbrella and podnosh is intriguing in its aim to teach communities how to use social media and help set up community blogs for local news and information in and around the city.
The way forward for local news could well be hyperlocal blogs and sites with a community base – where non-journalists have the opportunity to create content and take pride and an interest in their local area. I think this idea opens up a wealth of opportunity for journalists and citizens alike and one which has given me food for thought for my final year project at university (more details to follow).
Any thoughts or suggestions about the use of hyperlocal blogs and websites is welcomed. Does your area have a blog and if not, do you think it would benefit from having one?