As hinted by my earlier post about ‘hyperlocal’ being the way forward, I have started to think about provisions for local news platforms in my area. I’m interested in pursuing this idea as part of my final year university project and below is my initial (in it’s very infant stage) proposal:
I would like to set up and run a hyperlocal news blog for my local area (Cannock Chase, WS12 and surrounding areas). As a journalism student, this is the area of the market that, I have observed, is currently developing and proposing solutions to the decline in local newspapers and other ‘traditional’ media platforms.
From initial research carried out, I have found that there is a gap in the market for hyperlocal news platforms. The only other one in the area is a website which is part of a national franchise scheme AboutMyArea – this lacks any real interactive features, UGC etc – and is mainly written articles similar to newspaper content.
A hyperlocal news blog responds to changing market conditions (we have one free-sheet paper and its related web presence) and provides a valuable service to the local community, especially those who increasingly access information online. It appears that there is an audience for these blogs (see the Lichfield Blog and a recent interesting blog post on hyperlocal) and that communities are becoming more interactive and involved in community-based initiatives.
As a hyperlocal blog, there are fewer commercial issues to contend with – technically it’s ‘free’ to set up (just a host like WordPress) – but obviously there is potential for it to ‘become’ a commercial investment (with local advertising etc). The purpose/role of hyperlocal platforms means that they are less ‘I am the journalist-here is the news’ and more ‘what’s going on in your community – let’s discuss it’. I would like the blog to contain more than ‘news’ articles (which many sites already offer) and include audio interviews/observations (e.g. audio boo), photographs, short video packages and more social media connections.
I think this challenge will build on and use my core journalism skills and develop the skills I’m currently learning in Online Journalism (which covers blogging, microblogging, podcasting, audio material etc).
There are obviously further areas to research: area covered, target audience, funding/hosting etc but this is my initial idea.
The following is some early feedback on my proposal from my tutor Sue Heseltine:
There are some excellent ideas here that are based on good research and it is clear that you have already begin to think through some of the issues involved. You also show some genuine understanding of how a hyperlocal blog might provide an alternative but more interactive and community-based type of service compared to the local newspapers. You also correctly identify potential areas for further research and – like all hyperlocal blogs – the issue of making it pay will be one you will have to consider. Definitely an idea worth pursuing, though.
We really need good journalists. I have plenty of stories to tell![It’s] hard going. Will help if there are more.need to network and involve media