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August 22 2012

10:05

Local news sites form new trade association

Columbia Journalism Review :: Next month, at the annual Block by Block conference for local news sites, around 100 independent publishers will celebrate the launch of a new nonprofit trade group that will offer support for the growing hyperlocal news industry.

Block by Block - Conference for hyperlocal news Sept. 13-15 in Chicago

A report by Hazel Sheffield, www.cjr.org

August 21 2012

16:17

July 25 2012

09:16

Hyperlocal Voices: Richard Gurner, Caerphilly Observer

For the fourth in our new series of Hyperlocal Voices we head back to Wales. Launched by Richard Gurner in July 2009, the Caerphilly Observer acts as a local news and information website for Caerphilly County Borough.

The site is one of a small, but growing, number of financially viable hyperlocal websites. Richard, who remains the Editor of the site, told Damian Radcliffe a little bit about his journey over the last three years.

 

1.  Who were the people behind the blog?

People tend to be a bit surprised when I reveal that it’s only me behind Caerphilly Observer. We do have guest bloggers (local politicians and business leaders) and we have some sports reports sent in from local teams, but apart from that I do most of the editorial on the site and our weekly newsletter.

2.  What made you decide to set up the blog?

Believe it or not, I originally set up Caerphilly Observer while I was living in Brighton – some 200 miles away from the area.

I was working for daily newspaper The Argus at the time as a reporter and simply wanted to keep up with what was going on back home. I also wanted to improve my digital skills and thought setting up a news website would kill two birds with one stone.

It has always been a dream of mine to own a newspaper and I thought that if the website took off with the readers, then maybe one day I could do it as a full-time job. I never thought that would become a reality until it happened in August 2011.

3.  When did you set up the blog and how did you go about it?

With the intention of this maybe becoming a business one day, I purposely set about choosing a name with a “newspaper” feel. If the website was to be taken seriously then it needed to have a strong brand. After several alternatives, Caerphilly Observer was finally chosen by my wife.

I registered the domain name and went about setting-up a self-hosted WordPress site. With next to no technical knowledge of DNS, PHP, Apache and loads of other things that sounded like they were from Star Trek, I ploughed on.

The learning curve has been steep – especially with implementing a custom WordPress theme – but the knowledge gained has been immensely valuable.

I’m very much a hands-on learning person, so I know a lot of it has stuck and it won’t be forgotten.

4.  What other blogs, bloggers or websites influenced you?

I drew a lot of inspiration from several news websites, in not what to do, and loads of other blogs in what to do correctly.

Lichfield Live (Or Lichfield Blog as it was then called) was a big inspiration as was Bristol 24/7.

5.  How did – and do – you see yourself in relation to a traditional news operation?

I definitely see Caerphilly Observer as part of the local media and I’m very pleased to say the community we cover also sees us in the same light.

Quite often people mistake us for a newspaper and think we’re bigger and more established than we actually are – not a bad thing. Obviously, I can’t cover everything and there have been court cases I would have loved to have covered but couldn’t. I used to beat myself up about not being everywhere but more recently I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s me against the big media trying to create something sustainable.

There are other aspects of the site that equally need taking care of such as business admin and the small matter of selling advertising to fund what I do.

6.  What have been the key moments in the blog’s development editorially?

You know you’re being taken seriously when people contact you to complain. I won’t go into specifics but during last year’s Welsh Assembly elections we were threatened with legal action. We eventually sorted it out without the need for solicitors but it did go to show that we had arrived. If we were irrelevant then I wouldn’t have had that phone call.

7.  What sort of traffic do you get and how has that changed over time?

Our monthly average over the last six months (Jan 2012 to June 2012) is 37,000 page impressions and 13,340 unique visitors. That’s roughly double to what we did in the first half of 2011.

8.  What has been your biggest challenge to date?

Creating revenue is an absolute huge challenge and fundamental to the sustainable future of Caerphilly Observer.

One of our selling points is that we’re local and independent, but if we’re not getting the numbers for local businesses to themselves get business, they’re not going to advertise and we’re not going to make any money.

Paid-for editorial spots and display advertising make up the bulk of my income, but I still do freelance copywriting and journalism to create my wage. It’s nowhere near where it was when I was working for a big media company but the difference is I’m doing what I think serves our readers and advertisers the best. There is also an unrivalled sense of job satisfaction.

Many in hyperlocal circles and the wider media industry state that creating a paying website is impossible – I love proving them wrong.

9.  What story, feature or series are you most proud of?

Without doubt it was our liveblog during the local election count in May this year. It was a fantastic night grabbing interviews and updating the website and we had a record number of visitors and page views for a single day.

The reaction from and interaction with our readers was what kept me going into the small hours.

10.  What are your plans for the future?

To keep growing. I want to have at least one other member of staff and an office in Caerphilly town centre, but that will take a lot of hard work and dedication.

Most of all, I want Caerphilly Observer to be the primary source for local news in the area and have the mind and market share in the local community that traditional media has.

09:16

Hyperlocal Voices: Richard Gurner, Caerphilly Observer

For the fourth in our new series of Hyperlocal Voices we head back to Wales. Launched by Richard Gurner in July 2009, the Caerphilly Observer acts as a local news and information website for Caerphilly County Borough.

The site is one of a small, but growing, number of financially viable hyperlocal websites. Richard, who remains the Editor of the site, told Damian Radcliffe a little bit about his journey over the last three years.

 

1.  Who were the people behind the blog?

People tend to be a bit surprised when I reveal that it’s only me behind Caerphilly Observer. We do have guest bloggers (local politicians and business leaders) and we have some sports reports sent in from local teams, but apart from that I do most of the editorial on the site and our weekly newsletter.

2.  What made you decide to set up the blog?

Believe it or not, I originally set up Caerphilly Observer while I was living in Brighton – some 200 miles away from the area.

I was working for daily newspaper The Argus at the time as a reporter and simply wanted to keep up with what was going on back home. I also wanted to improve my digital skills and thought setting up a news website would kill two birds with one stone.

It has always been a dream of mine to own a newspaper and I thought that if the website took off with the readers, then maybe one day I could do it as a full-time job. I never thought that would become a reality until it happened in August 2011.

3.  When did you set up the blog and how did you go about it?

With the intention of this maybe becoming a business one day, I purposely set about choosing a name with a “newspaper” feel. If the website was to be taken seriously then it needed to have a strong brand. After several alternatives, Caerphilly Observer was finally chosen by my wife.

I registered the domain name and went about setting-up a self-hosted WordPress site. With next to no technical knowledge of DNS, PHP, Apache and loads of other things that sounded like they were from Star Trek, I ploughed on.

The learning curve has been steep – especially with implementing a custom WordPress theme – but the knowledge gained has been immensely valuable.

I’m very much a hands-on learning person, so I know a lot of it has stuck and it won’t be forgotten.

4.  What other blogs, bloggers or websites influenced you?

I drew a lot of inspiration from several news websites, in not what to do, and loads of other blogs in what to do correctly.

Lichfield Live (Or Lichfield Blog as it was then called) was a big inspiration as was Bristol 24/7.

5.  How did – and do – you see yourself in relation to a traditional news operation?

I definitely see Caerphilly Observer as part of the local media and I’m very pleased to say the community we cover also sees us in the same light.

Quite often people mistake us for a newspaper and think we’re bigger and more established than we actually are – not a bad thing. Obviously, I can’t cover everything and there have been court cases I would have loved to have covered but couldn’t. I used to beat myself up about not being everywhere but more recently I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s me against the big media trying to create something sustainable.

There are other aspects of the site that equally need taking care of such as business admin and the small matter of selling advertising to fund what I do.

6.  What have been the key moments in the blog’s development editorially?

You know you’re being taken seriously when people contact you to complain. I won’t go into specifics but during last year’s Welsh Assembly elections we were threatened with legal action. We eventually sorted it out without the need for solicitors but it did go to show that we had arrived. If we were irrelevant then I wouldn’t have had that phone call.

7.  What sort of traffic do you get and how has that changed over time?

Our monthly average over the last six months (Jan 2012 to June 2012) is 37,000 page impressions and 13,340 unique visitors. That’s roughly double to what we did in the first half of 2011.

8.  What has been your biggest challenge to date?

Creating revenue is an absolute huge challenge and fundamental to the sustainable future of Caerphilly Observer.

One of our selling points is that we’re local and independent, but if we’re not getting the numbers for local businesses to themselves get business, they’re not going to advertise and we’re not going to make any money.

Paid-for editorial spots and display advertising make up the bulk of my income, but I still do freelance copywriting and journalism to create my wage. It’s nowhere near where it was when I was working for a big media company but the difference is I’m doing what I think serves our readers and advertisers the best. There is also an unrivalled sense of job satisfaction.

Many in hyperlocal circles and the wider media industry state that creating a paying website is impossible – I love proving them wrong.

9.  What story, feature or series are you most proud of?

Without doubt it was our liveblog during the local election count in May this year. It was a fantastic night grabbing interviews and updating the website and we had a record number of visitors and page views for a single day.

The reaction from and interaction with our readers was what kept me going into the small hours.

10.  What are your plans for the future?

To keep growing. I want to have at least one other member of staff and an office in Caerphilly town centre, but that will take a lot of hard work and dedication.

Most of all, I want Caerphilly Observer to be the primary source for local news in the area and have the mind and market share in the local community that traditional media has.

April 30 2012

10:25

Local search, discounts and daily deals: Chinese DDMap bags $40m in funding

Tech in Asia :: Chinese online city listings company DDMap has today revealed a new and sizable round of funding. CEO Xu Longjiang, talking to Chinese media, said the financing was worth US$40 million and was led by US-based CID Capital and China-oriented F&H Fund Management. Much of DDMap’s business is actually in local promotions via its mobile apps DDCoupons, DDLife, and the newer DDCheckins.

HT: Robin Wauters, The Next Web

Continue to read Steven Millward, www.techinasia.com

April 28 2012

12:03

Journatic CEO Brian Timpone: Community level news for a better future of journalism

GigaOM :: Journatic CEO Brian Timpone — who got his start as a journalist working for TV stations and broadcast affiliates in Duluth, Minnesota and Springfield, Illinois and at one time owned several community newspapers — said he got the idea for what became Journatic after the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, when he started a content-management service for newspapers. He said that at the time, he was fascinated with the difference in market penetration between smaller community papers and large metropolitan papers.

Continue to read Mathew Ingram, gigaom.com

Tags: Hyperlocal

April 25 2012

18:26

Tory MP Louise Mensch calls for subsidies for local newspapers

Guardian :: Tory MP Louise Mensch has called for the government to consider a form of subsidy to support the ailing local newspaper market, arguing that community-level coverage is still far more powerful than a "Facebook campaign and a couple of tweets". Mensch, who led a private members' debate in Westminster Hall on Wednesday, said that "now is not the time to wipe out our local press" as doing so would represent a "threat to democracy".

Continue to read Mark Sweney, www.guardian.co.uk

April 24 2012

19:38

Journatic promised employees a $50 bonus to keep quite

As I have posted previously Tribune replaces TribLocal with Journatic suburban content. Michael Miner provides interesting details in his piece below. Interesting also that Journatic pays per piece writers "roughly $12/hr."

Chicagoreader :: Interest in Journatic heated up a month ago when it put together a 20-page mock neighborhood section for the Tribune. That's when executive editor Peter Behle sent employees a notice that said in part, "Reporters will be sniffing around—and they are not authorized to talk with anyone about Journatic under any circumstances. Better yet, if you receive a reporter inquiry and tell us about it (without responding), we'll pay you a $50 bonus."

HT: Jim Romenesko, jimromenesko.com

Reported by - Continue to read Michael Miner, www.chicagoreader.com

Tags: Hyperlocal

April 23 2012

18:13

Tribune replaces TribLocal with Journatic suburban content

Chicago Tribune :: Tribune Co. announced Monday it has made an investment in Chicago-based media content provider Journatic, which will take over production of TribLocal, the Chicago Tribune's hyperlocal news report. Terms of the investment were not disclosed. The move will outsource TribLocal's news content, a network of Chicago-area community web sites and print editions, to reporters and editors at Journatic over the next three months.

Continue to read Robert Channick, www.chicagotribune.com

Tags: Hyperlocal

April 21 2012

11:57

NY tabloid’s new South Asian section shows ‘local’ is cultural not geographic'

Would like to add that in some specific cases local is cultural but in many others geographic.

paidContent :: What do local New Yorkers really want to read about? Well, cricket and Bollywood, of course. One of New York’s longtime tabloids The Daily News has added a news section to its website called Desi that targets the city’s large South Asian community. The paper is using technology to siphon South Asian stories from papers around the world. A small staff helps ensure the content reflects the interest of the American diaspora.

Continue to read Jeff John Roberts, paidcontent.org

Tags: Hyperlocal

April 20 2012

06:31

BBC regional sites to consider including links to hyperlocal blogs

Old BBC North identImage from MHP The Ident Zone - click to see in context

The BBC’s social media lead for the English Regions Robin Morley has invited requests from “reputable hyperlocal websites” who want links to their stories included in the BBC’s regional news websites.

Andy Mabbett writes that:

“Interested hyperlocal bloggers (in England only, for now, as that’s the extent of Robin’s remit) are therefore invited to submit details of their blog, with links to a couple of their recent news stories, including original content (no churnalism, please) in a comment below, for consideration by Robin. I must emphasise that, while he’s kindly agreed to consider including such links, no promises have been made. The emphasis is on news stories, not lobbying or party-political pieces.”

In a follow-up comment Morley added:

“We link to a variety of external sources in various different ways from our local sites – so expanding the pool is definitely something we’re keen to explore.”

The comments on the post are worth reading too. Will Perrin says of a previous meeting with the Controller Regions in Birmingham David Holdsworth that he “was clear that they should have been linking to [the Bourneville Village blog's coverage of the Cadbury takeover], as well as/instead of the Express and Star.”

If you know of a hyperlocal blog which should be getting credit from regional BBC news websites, post in the comments on Andy’s post or email Robin at robin.morley[at]bbc.co.uk

06:31

BBC regional sites to consider including links to hyperlocal blogs

Old BBC North identImage from MHP The Ident Zone - click to see in context

The BBC’s social media lead for the English Regions Robin Morley has invited requests from “reputable hyperlocal websites” who want links to their stories included in the BBC’s regional news websites.

Andy Mabbett writes that:

“Interested hyperlocal bloggers (in England only, for now, as that’s the extent of Robin’s remit) are therefore invited to submit details of their blog, with links to a couple of their recent news stories, including original content (no churnalism, please) in a comment below, for consideration by Robin. I must emphasise that, while he’s kindly agreed to consider including such links, no promises have been made. The emphasis is on news stories, not lobbying or party-political pieces.”

In a follow-up comment Morley added:

“We link to a variety of external sources in various different ways from our local sites – so expanding the pool is definitely something we’re keen to explore.”

The comments on the post are worth reading too. Will Perrin says of a previous meeting with the Controller Regions in Birmingham David Holdsworth that he “was clear that they should have been linking to [the Bourneville Village blog's coverage of the Cadbury takeover], as well as/instead of the Express and Star.”

If you know of a hyperlocal blog which should be getting credit from regional BBC news websites, post in the comments on Andy’s post or email Robin at robin.morley[at]bbc.co.uk

March 29 2012

19:39

4 hyperlocal things

Here and Now report

A new community for hyperlocal bloggers has been launched: Hyperlocal Alliance is “intended for grass-roots hyperlocal site owners, [and] is invite only (at the moment)”.

The Journalism Foundation has published a resource aimed at hyperlocal publishers – How To Build a Local Site (PDF) – including a chapter taken from the Online Journalism Blog (a rather curious choice, but there you go) and a link to Help Me Investigate in the Further Reading section.

NESTA has published Here And Now, its report (PDF) into the UK hyperlocal scene (shown above).

And Birmingham City University (where I run the MA in Online Journalism) are recruiting a Research Assistant for a research project on hyperlocal publishing.

19:39

4 hyperlocal things

Here and Now report

A new community for hyperlocal bloggers has been launched: Hyperlocal Alliance is “intended for grass-roots hyperlocal site owners, [and] is invite only (at the moment)”.

The Journalism Foundation has published a resource aimed at hyperlocal publishers – How To Build a Local Site (PDF) – including a chapter taken from the Online Journalism Blog (a rather curious choice, but there you go) and a link to Help Me Investigate in the Further Reading section.

NESTA has published Here And Now, its report (PDF) into the UK hyperlocal scene (shown above).

And Birmingham City University (where I run the MA in Online Journalism) are recruiting a Research Assistant for a research project on hyperlocal publishing.

February 27 2012

07:41

Hyperlocals diverge on how to mine rich lode of digital ads

Street Fight :: The explosion in digital advertising isn’t producing much business for top news sites, according to a new Pew report. Even though digital advertising is estimated to grow 40% by 2015, according to Pew, the research center said few major sites were capturing any share of this new cornucopia. If that’s the story with bigger sites, what, I wondered, was happening among the more than 3,000 hyperlocal news sites, which, by my estimate, reach 25 million people — a big chunk of the consumer market that advertisers covet. How are they responding to new digital approaches that merchants and other businesses are beginning to use to connect with consumers beyond banners and other now-ancient display ads?

Continue to read Tom Grubisich, streetfightmag.com

Tags: Hyperlocal

January 04 2012

11:03

2011: the UK hyper-local year in review

In this guest post, Damian Radcliffe highlights some topline developments in the hyper-local space during 2011. He also asks for your suggestions of great hyper-local content from 2011. His more detailed slides looking at the previous year are cross-posted at the bottom of this article.

2011 was a busy year across the hyper-local sphere, with a flurry of activity online as well as more traditional platforms such as TV, Radio and newspapers.

The Government’s plans for Local TV have been considerably developed, following the Shott Review just over a year ago. We now have a clearer indication of the areas which will be first on the list for these new services and how Ofcom might award these licences. What we don’t know is who will apply for these licences, or what their business models will be. But, this should become clear in the second half of the year.

Whilst the Leveson Inquiry hasn’t directly been looking at local media, it has been a part of the debate. Claire Enders outlined some of the challenges facing the regional and local press in a presentation showing declining revenue, jobs and advertising over the past five years. Her research suggests that the impact of “the move to digital” has been greater at a local level than at the nationals.

Across the board, funding remains a challenge for many. But new models are emerging, with Daily Deals starting to form part of the revenue mix alongside money from foundations and franchising.

And on the content front, we saw Jeremy Hunt cite a number of hyper-local examples at the Oxford Media Convention, as well as record coverage for regional press and many hyper-local outlets as a result of the summer riots.

I’ve included more on all of these stories in my personal retrospective for the past year.

One area where I’d really welcome feedback is examples of hyper-local content you produced – or read – in 2011. I’m conscious that a lot of great material may not necessarily reach a wider audience, so do post your suggestions below and hopefully we can begin to redress that.


December 21 2011

13:52

The loss of local - if anyone reads about anything in the world 10,000 times

All stories start local by one means or another. Without local journalism and original reporting we lose essential value as individuals and as a society. In today's news landscape we can read about a story 10,000 times without reading anything new. It seems that a majority of journalists is paralyzed from shock. The sword of Damocles, alias "traffic figures", is hanging over their head. If you can't reach your target ... . I'm missing original reporting sometimes so much, that it really hurts.

Seth Godin Blog :: When journalism was local, the math of reporting was pretty simple: you found a trend, an event or an issue that was important and you wrote about it. After all, you were the voice to your readers. Now there is pretty much no such thing as local when it comes to news. Anyone in the world can read about anything in the world. As a result, this habit of being in sync completely undermines what we need from professional journalists.

[Seth Godin:] The hard part of professional journalism going forward is writing about what hasn't been written about, directing attention where it hasn't been, and saying something new.

Continue to read Seth Godin, sethgodin.typepad.com

December 08 2011

09:49

Tom Stites about web journalism: a long way to go to serve the needs of local communities

Niemanlab :: We may be five years into the big push for web journalism, argues Tom Stites the veteran editor, but we’re still a long way from a sustainable model to support the knowledge needed in local communities.

[Tom Stites:] The buzz about how bloggers and citizen journalists will save the day, once almost deafening, has died down to a murmur, although the buzz about Twitter, Facebook, and cellphone video cameras saving the day has picked up thanks to their powerful contributions to coverage of major breaking stories, from the Arab spring to Occupy Wall Street. But the triumphant march to the digital future, at least when measured in terms of original reporting, has yet to lead anywhere near triumph.

Tom Stites had a long career in newspapers, editing Pulitzer-winning projects and working at top newspapers like The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. In recent years, he’s shifted his emphasis to trying to figure out a new business model to support journalism through the Banyan Project.

Continue to read Tom Stites, www.niemanlab.org

December 07 2011

21:41

The rise of local media sales partnerships and 19 other recent hyper-local developments you may have missed

In this guest post Ofcom’s Damian Radcliffe cross-publishes his latest presentation on developments in hyperlocal publishing for September-October, and highlights how partnerships are increasingly important for hyper-local, regional and national media in terms of “making it pay”.

When producing my latest bi-monthly update on hyper-local media, I was struck by the fact that media sales partnerships suddenly seem to be all the rage.

In a challenging economic climate, a number of media providers – both big and small – have recently come together to announce initiatives aimed at maximising economies of scale and potentially reducing overheads.

At a hyperlocal level, the launch on 1st November of the Chicago Independent Advertising Network (CIAN), saw 15 Chicago community news sites coming together to offer a single point of contact for advertisers. These sites “collectively serve more than 1 million page views each month.”

This initiative follows in the footsteps of other small scale advertising alliances including the Seattle Indie Ad Network and Boston Blogs.

These moves – bringing together a range of small scale location based websites – can help address concerns that hyper-local sites are not big enough (on their own) to unlock funding from large advertisers.

CIAN also aims to address a further hyper-local concern: that of sales skills. Rather than having a hyperlocal practitioner add media sales to an ever expanding list of duties, funding from the Chicago Community Trust and the Knight Community Information Challenge allows for a full-time salesperson.

Big Media is also getting in on this act.

In early November Microsoft, Yahoo! and AOL agreed to sell each other’s unsold display ads. The move is a response to Google and Facebook’s increasing clout in this space.

Reuters reported that both Facebook and Google are expected to increase their share of online display advertising in the United States in 2011 by 9.3% and 16.3%.

In contrast, AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo are forecast to lose share, with Facebook expected to surpass Yahoo for the first time.

Similarly in the UK, DMGT’s Northcliffe Media, home to 113 regional newspapers, recently announced it was forging a joint partnership with Trinity Mirror’s regional sales house, AMRA.

This will create a commercial proposition encompassing over 260 titles, including nine of the UK’s 10 biggest regional paid-for titles. Like The Microsoft, Yahoo! and AOL arrangement, this new partnership comes into effect in 2012.

These examples all offer opportunities for economies of scale for media outlets and potentially larger potential reach and impact for advertisers.  Given these benefits, I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see more of these types of partnership in the coming months and years.

Damian Radcliffe is writing in a personal capacity.

Other topics in his current hyperlocal slides  include Sky’s local pilot in NE England and research into the links between tablet useand local news consumption. As ever, feedback and suggestions for future editions are welcome.



 

December 01 2011

06:50

Location based services - Foursquare rolls out new buttons for publishers

AdAge :: Foursquare is looking to increase its visibility on the web by introducing new sharing buttons for publishers that will appear side-by-side with the Facebook "Like" and Google's "+1" buttons in some cases. The buttons are being launched in partnership with Frommer's Travel, Eater.com, Time Out New York, Time Out Boston, Time Out Chicago, Time Out New York Kids, New York Magazine, AskMen.com and four CBS local sites but will be available to all publishers starting today.

Reported by Cotton Delo, adage.com

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