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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.

May 27 2011

13:32

LIVE: Session 3A – Local data

We have Matt Caines and Ben Whitelaw from Wannabe Hacks liveblogging for us at news:rewired all day. You can follow session 3A ‘Local Data’, below.

Session 3A features: Philip John, director, Lichfield Blog; Chris Taggart, founder, OpenlyLocal; Greg Hadfield, director of strategic projects, Cogapp; Jonathan Carr-West, director, Local Government Information Unit. Moderated by Matthew Eltringham, editor, BBC College of Journalism website.

February 15 2011

09:41

Hyperlocal Voices: Phyllis Stephen, Edinburgh Reporter

Edinburgh Reporter

Yessi Bello continues the Hyperlocal Voices series of interviews, talking to the Edinburgh Reporter‘s Phyllis Stephen.

Who were the people behind the blog, and what where their backgrounds?

I am the person behind it. I had just graduated with a Masters in Journalism and needed to find an outlet for my work based here in Edinburgh. It seemed to me – particularly after attending the News Re:Wired conference in January 2010 – that hyperlocal is the new buzzword and that I could do it right here on my own doorstep.

I had loads of new multimedia skills desperately needing to be used and practiced. Prior to that I had been a solicitor for a number of years but took a career swerve in 2008 when I decided to go back to university. Same skills – different result!

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

I first set the blog up with WordPress in February 2010. It was hacked and then I started using Rapidweaver (Mac software). It took a while to realise that this was not the best platform (It was very cumbersome to add in articles and even Google Ads was nightmare).

I relaunched The Edinburgh Reporter properly with some professional technical help at the end of July 2010. We also have sites placed in Aberdeen, Dublin, Glasgow and London which we will grow given time.

What other blogs, bloggers or websites influenced you?

I had read or visited a number of blogs, particularly The Lichfield Blog which always seems to be held up as the guru of hyperlocal in the UK. I really like SE1 and also Will Perrin’s King’s Cross blog.

The one which influenced me a lot, and I even got the book on it – was The Huffington Post. I don’t see why we can’t have something like that here – and I see no real barriers to our site becoming more like that given time and lots and lots of connections.

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

We cannot cover every story like a newspaper with a lot of staff. It is impossible. But I see us plugging a gap for local people to have access to news about Edinburgh in one place.

I think it is useful for Edinburgh residents to have one site to get news about their own city – even if that news is also elsewhere on the internet or in the newspapers. People have jobs and their own lives. They do not have all day to trawl the internet looking for stories about Edinburgh and that is where we come in. We do not see ourselves as competing with traditional news – we hope that we complement it.

But I do take the practice of journalism very seriously, and we try to get original quotes when we can. One of our best and most popular stories of recent days was the day I was out early taking photographs of a house which had caught fire in the early morning. I had the photos up before any newspaper site. Even the BBC just had one line by the time my article with quotes from firefighters and householders was published online.

It is simply easier on occasions to use press releases, particularly if time is pressing. It is the best way to get a wide spread of news out to our readers, and I have no real problem in using press releases to help do that, but I always edit them thoroughly before publishing.

We are very different from traditional news outlets in that our possibilities of using multimedia to tell the story are endless. Video, photographs and audio all add colour to the story itself.

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

Our traffic is increasing all the time in a straight line and this month, a mere six months into our new entity, we are approaching 10,000 visitors and more than twice that number of pageviews. We think that is rather good in the time allowed but we have no real way of knowing! Our Twitter presence is also effective and we have just under 1300 followers at today’s date.

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

I think the use of WordPress is now a monumental factor. We have several contributors who can log in remotely and thus my role as editor is developing naturally. Our articles will cover a wider spread with more contributors.

But I resist the temptation of calling us a blog. We aim to be a true hyperlocal website with static pages of information as well as news stories: one of our key pages and one which we work on continually is the Free Wifi page.

November 20 2010

11:11

From journalist to blogger: the experience of The Lichfield Blog’s Ross Hawkes

Although I’ve already published an interview with The Lichfield Blog’s Philip John (as part of the Hyperlocal Voices series) I recently returned to ask the site’s editor, Ross Hawkes, about how his own approach as a professional journalist has been changed through running the site. I thought it worth publishing his response in full – here it is:

My background has been in regional journalism in Staffordshire and the West Midlands. I began at the Lichfield Post as a fresh-faced 16-year-old, so it’s quite ironic that I’ve pretty much gone full circle in the space of 12 or 13 years, yet have never been happier. I started off as a sports reporter, then branched out into page design, edited a weekly paper in Coventry before making the move to the dailies at the Birmingham Mail as a page planner and sub-editor. So I’ve had a fairly varied career even though it hasn’t taken me a million miles from my own doorstep. It also skilled me for The Lichfield Blog because I got to see some patch reporters in the greatest sense of the word – people who lived and breathed a community. My integration into the online landscape came after the opportunity arose to take on their web operation.

My time in this role saw me eventually become Senior Multimedia Editor for the Midlands. I’ve been lucky as a journalist in changing times – I’ve been able to spend time learning about the positives and negatives of online work, what works and what doesn’t etc, while many of my colleagues in the industry have had a timescale imposed on them.

But for a variety of reasons the chance to teach online journalism at Staffordshire University came up and here I am today. One of the things I’m keen to stress to students is that I’m not a geek (I leave that to Phil!) but a journalist who has found practical uses for technology etc. During my time at Trinity Mirror I saw plenty of great things, but in a busy newsroom only so much of it could really be of benefit. So that’s what I try to get across to my guys and girls here.

Anyway, back to journalism. Coming to Staffordshire I was really keen that I didn’t want to become rusty – but at the same time I didn’t want to burden myself with freelance concerns, especially in a market which didn’t offer many opportunities anyway. I was also mindful that there were plenty of out-of-work journalists who needed paid employment more than I did. So I decided that I’d write about what I know – basically, where I live. It astonished me to discover that for a city (albeit a small one) there was nowhere to get a regular taste of life here online. Even the newspapers were struggling to fill the void for anyone interested in ye olde city. Although the early versions of The Lichfield Blog were crap, with nothing more than me trying to provoke a response, I soon found that there was a desire for somewhere to discuss Lichfield. Crucially, there was an audience.

Admission time – I never got the value of Twitter as a full-time journalist. But in wanting to grow an audience for TLB I learned how to use it to my benefit. In effect it has been the driving force behind the site. It was at a Tweetup in the early days that I discovered the appetite for the site. It was also where I was able to hook up with my professional other-half – Phil. And herein lies the first journalistic lesson I picked up from The Lichfield Blog. I quickly acknowledged that I wasn’t an expert in everything and that other people held the key to the success of TLB. By working with people like Phil I’ve been able to pull ideas and take suggestions and feedback from a non-journalistic source. I suppose it was collaboration in its rawest form. And we’ve worked like that ever since. Phil has been invaluable and anyone thinking of going hyperlocal needs to find a Phil. With his expertise in the technical side of it, it has allowed me to concentrate on my strengths. So what did Phil get in return? Well, I recommended a good hairdresser once…

So what have I learned from my hyperlocal experience? The Lichfield Blog allows me to enjoy what I do. I’m my own boss, I can try random things, if it doesn’t work I don’t have a news editor kicking my backside. It’s allowed me to be experimental and enjoy the career I’ve got. I like to think I’ve gone back to the future in terms of how I operate. Yes, it’s a new platform and it’s new media, but the basic skills are more needed than ever. It’s about knowing your patch inside out, it’s about attending community meetings and knowing local decision-makers, it’s about getting away from deadline and target driven writing – it’s about being a journalist. I’ve always loved local journalism deep down, that ability to know what makes a community tick. The Lichfield Blog has allowed me to do that and more. It’s given me the opportunity to see that partnerships are the way forward. I’ve also re-evaluated what I think (and that’s the crucial bit – my thoughts) media should be doing. We try to combine news and info. We try and make advertising affordable to local businesses. We try to do exactly the sort of things local newspapers did once upon a time. It’s perhaps not the formula to get me rich, but I never got into journalism for the money, so why should I change that now?

October 15 2010

13:38

Hyperlocal voices: Warren Free, Tamworth Blog

Hyperlocal blog: Tamworth Blog

In the latest in the hyperlocal voices series, Tamworth Blog‘s Warren Free talks about how the same frustration with lack of timely local coverage – and the example set by the nearby Lichfield Blog – led him to start publishing last year.

Who were the people behind the blog, and what were their backgrounds?

I started up the blog after seeing what was happening around the Midlands, primarily in Lichfield and saw the concept would give us something in Tamworth where we could communicate the news as it happened. At the time I was working from home, so in Tamworth the majority of the time.

My background though isn’t one which is littered with journalism experience. My only brush with journalism was during my GCSE’s where I studied Media Studies: we took part in a national newspaper competition, where we came in the top 20. That’s kind of where I left it, until Tamworth Blog was set up in 2009.

What made you decide to set up the blog?

I saw what was happening in Lichfield and suffered the same frustration: local news in Tamworth wasn’t accessible unless you purchased the weekly newspaper. Great if you wanted to find out what happened on Saturday a week later. So I endeavoured to try to provide this service to people in Tamworth.

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

The first story was published on WordPress on March 2009. We moved to our own hosted box in May 2009, giving us a lot more control on the content and what we could do with it. It started off as just me, but over time more people have offered to write articles for the blog.

What other blogs, bloggers or websites influenced you?

The big influence was Lichfield Blog. I have known Philip John now for what seems like a lifetime (sorry Phil), after working with him in the past. He assisted with the initial frustrations I had with getting started. He pointed me in the direction of other like minded people across the region including the guys at Pits n Pots and Digbeth is Good. I’ve tried to keep Tamworth Blog unique though, just using ideas and putting our own unique spin on it.

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

I like to think we can work alongside the traditional news operation, we both provide services to different demographics in my opinion.

I think a lot of people who read the newspapers are people like my parents who like have paper. Whereas I think the younger generation – and by that I mean anyone from early teens up – if they have an interest in their local area or want to know what happened on their road, will pump it into Google and want to get the information from the web and will never go to a shop for that. I think it’s a generation thing.

We both ultimately do the same thing: report on the news – we just make it available as it happens and don’t do it for advertising revenues, which I think many of the publications are driven by.

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

We average 2,000 unique hits a week. This depends though on what happens in Tamworth. Strangely this weekend saw a spike because of police cordoning off one of the major roads for forensic investigation, which saw some 4,000 unique hits over the first few days this week. Whilst this isn’t great traffic, it is growing month on month.

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

Probably the most pivotal moment was being invited to the Operation Nemesis raids in Tamworth just before Christmas. We were invited with the traditional media (both paper and TV) to go out on the dawn raids and report on them.

Normally this is something we would get information on from the police later on. Being there and seeing it happen enabled us to report on it properly. Again, until we published this, there was no information on what happened on the streets of Tamworth that morning. That week we saw record hits, simply to find out as much information as possible.

We were also invited to cover the General Election results, live from the count, enabling us to get the news out for people to follow live or wake up too. We had followers through the night and beat the big boys (BBC, ITV and Sky) to getting the announcement out. Thanks to Rawlett High School and the council for giving us access to that.

The biggest hurdle I have found is convincing people of the value of the news on the web. Once this has been overcome, you can quite easily be swamped with news, some of it that isn’t that useful, but wouldn’t have a place on the web if it wasn’t for the blog. You can have it take over your life – finding the balance is key.

September 21 2010

06:00

Hyperlocal Voices: Philip John (The Lichfield Blog)

Hyperlocal voices - Lichfield Blog

In another Hyperlocal Voices post, Philip John talks about how The Lichfield Blog was launched to address a gap in local news reporting. In less than 2 years it has taken on a less opinionated tone and more “proper reporting”, picking up national recognition and covering its costs along the way.

Who were the people behind Lichfield Blog, and what were their backgrounds before setting it up?

Ross Hawkes founded the blog in January. Ross is a senior lecturer in journalism at Staffs Uni and previously worked at BPM. He started his journalistic career at the now defunct Lichfield Post. There’s also Nick, a semi-professional photographer who helps out with the creative side of things and I look after the techy side of the web site as looking after WordPress is where I specialise. We also have a good group of contributors and a couple of advisors, many of whom are either current or former journalists at local newspapers.

What made you decide to set up the blog?

Ross’ wife heard sirens going past their house one day and was curious as to where they were going. Ross realised no-one was reporting those kind of low-level goings on and that with the beat reporter disappearing there was a gap for community-focused news.

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

Ross started the blog on 19th January 2009 on Blogspot (which you can still see here). I got involved while it was there and persuaded Ross to move to WordPress.com which he did on 24th Feb 2009 (also still there). At first the blog was very blog like, where Ross had a bit of a moan but also asked some good questions of the local authorities and certain attitudes to issues in Lichfield. It was quickly picked up by the Twitter community in Lichfield, including myself and after a tweetup it just sky-rocketed and more people got involved.

What other blogs, bloggers or websites influenced you?

Probably the Mercury’s website, thisislichfield.co.uk because they only publish stories on Thursday when they come out in print as well. It was created more out of need than being based upon anything else that was going on. Of course, we later realised just how many people had done exactly the same!

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

I’d say we both have the same aim really – to report what’s going on. But that’s where the similarity ends. We’re not constrained by space – we have a sort of motto that we’ll print anything so long as it’s relevant to Lichfield; it’s why we can have 13 articles in 5 months about lost dogs.

We’re actually in the community too, which means we’re close to the action and can respond quicker, and because we do that we have a following that will gladly provide us with stories. There’s two examples I always use – the story of a fire at a local pub which was on the blog just 3 hours after the call to the emergency services (who were impressed we were on it so quickly), and the story of a body found in Beacon Park which was reported hours later because my house mate alerted me to the Police presence on his way to work enabling me to go and get a photo while Ross phone the Police for details.

We’ve become actively involved in some local events too so we’re not just observing and reporting what’s going on but taking part and people seem to really respond to that. I think it shows are commitment to Lichfield, not just to the success of the site.

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

The first was the move from a blog style to the more straight-laced independent, impartial stance we have now. Without much discussion it was obvious there was a gap for proper reporting and so the blog took a more serious style – we believed that we should provide the info and let the community decide what they think about it, rather than us putting a slant on. That and the acceptance as a news source by the local authorities including the City and District Councils, Staffs Police and our MP.

We’ve also been taken aback by the willingness of local businesses to advertise – we’ve consistently paid our costs through that without having to put any effort into selling the slots.

And we’re starting to generate revenue in other ways now, too, which is helping to make continuing the work worthwhile.

The recognition we’ve had both locally and nationally has been astounding. We’ve been in the national press, on Radio 4 and mentioned in the House of Commons a couple of times as well as being asked to talk about our story at various events and in interviews. It really validates the effort we’re putting in because it shows we’re making some sort of difference to the local media landscape.

February 01 2010

08:40

Come to the West Midlands Future of News Group February Meetup

The Future of News gathering first organised by Adam Westbrook has its first West Midlands meetup next week (organised by The Lichfield Blog’s Philip John. I’ll be there, along with leading Portuguese blogger Alex Gamela, Brummie alpha blogger Jon Bounds, Andy Brightwell of Hashbrum and Grounds Birmingham; the UK’s top student blogger Nigel Barlow and Pits n Pots‘ Mike Rawlins, among others.

It’s taking place from 6.45pm on Monday February 8 at Birmingham City University. Places are free but limited – book at http://www.meetup.com/The-West-Midlands-Future-of-News-Group/calendar/12461072/

January 19 2010

10:54

JournalLocal: ‘Is social enterprise the future of local media?’

Philip John, one of the Lichfield Blog team, highlights remarks made by Derek Wyatt, Labour MP for Sittingbourne & Sheppey, during a recent parliamentary debate:

[He] made reference to the The Guardian’s status as the subsidiary of a charity, the Scott Trust as opposed to its rivals who are for-profit ventures. He went on to propose the model for local media as an answer, whether in part of whole, to the trouble facing newspapers.

Wyatt said, “There will be a Guardian alternative locally for groups of people wanting to set up not for profit newspapers often online but need funding.” The suggestion here is that at a local level the answer might be the Guardian-style of ownership whereby the media is part of a charitable trust or social enterprise, and a not-for-profit operation.

Full post at this link…

PS. Happy Birthday to the Lichfield Blog – it’s one year old today!

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January 11 2010

15:37

New ebook for hyperlocal bloggers

Multimedia journalist Adam Westbrook has today released a new ebook about hyperlocal newsgathering, drawing on his experiences as a local reporter.

Its introductory price is £4.99 and Westbrook is optimistic people will pay: “I’ve purposefully kept it at a low price so its not a big investment even for someone just toying with the idea of starting a hyperlocal blog,” he told Journalism.co.uk.

“I think ebooks have a lot of potential because they have a quick turnaround. Any physical book on journalism is usually out of date before it hits the shelves!

“To that end I will be updating the book with collaborations with other bloggers, and hopefully producing at least one new title.”

And what exactly is ‘hyperlocal’? After all, Westbrook covered three counties during his time as a reporter. “I think the power of hyperlocal is in doing a small area really well,” he said.

“In my experience even local papers can’t really drill into a single community and often cover several towns. I think the typical hyperlocal will cover a single town or single village. It will need to have the same journalistic ambitions as a paper but with very few people and little or no budget. That’s why I wrote the book, to show people they don’t need a big newsroom to do big news.

Lichfield blogger Philip John has reviewed the book for his site JournalLocal, at this link. While John has some criticisms, he says that the book, ‘Newsgathering for Hyperlocal Websites,’ “is definitely a good start in helping hyperlocal owners to organise themselves and make sure they have all the information they need to serve their community”.

Both Philip John and Adam Westbook will be talking at Journalism.co.uk’s news:rewired event on 14 January.

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