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August 23 2010

14:34

The middle tier: data journalism and regional news

Data journalism and regional news – a relationship that presents challenges, but far more opportunities, according to a post by Mary Hamilton on her Metamedia blog.

Following on from the first UK Hacks/Hackers event last week, she reflects on the use of data by reporters across what she calls “three-tier journalism”: national, regional and hyperlocal. For the first and last, there are clear-cut differences in the data they need, she says. But for regional press, it can be a bit more tricky.

National news needs big picture data from which it can draw big trends. Government data that groups England into its nine official regions works fine for broad sweeps; data that breaks down by city or county works well too. Hyperlocal news needs small details – court lists, crime reports, enormous amounts of council information – and it’s possible to not only extract but report and contextualise the details.

Regional news needs both, but in different ways. It needs those stories that the nationals wouldn’t cover and the hyperlocals would cover only part of. Data about the East of England is too vague for a paper that focuses primarily on 1/6 of the counties in the region; information from Breckland District Council is not universal enough when there are at least 13 other county and district councils in the paper’s patch. Government statistics by region need paragraphs attached looking at the vagaries of the statistics and how Cambridge skews everything a certain way. District council data has to be broadened out. Everything needs context.

But the opportunities for great stories within all of this is “unending” she says, and something well worth regional press investing in.

The question is how we exploit them. I believe that we start by freeing up interested journalists to do data work beyond simply plotting their stories on a map, taking on stories that impact people on a regional level.

See her full post here…Similar Posts:



August 11 2010

15:50

Ofcom considers removal of regional media ownership restriction

Ofcom is considering a government proposal for further relaxation of regional media ownership rules, which could see the one remaining restriction removed.

According to a report by the Press Association, the regulator is considering a request by the Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport Secretary Jeremy Hunt to look at the effect of removing the last restriction, which prohibits any one body from owning all of the following: local newspapers with more than a 50 per cent market share, a local radio station and the ITV licence for the area.

In its response, Ofcom said local media was facing “significant economic pressure” and removing the remaining restriction “could allow local media greater options to consolidate to respond to these pressures”.

But it added that a “serious consideration” remained that combined ownership could give too much control over the local news agenda to one person or company.

The regulator admitted “it is also worth noting that there is probably a reasonably low risk of the kind of consolidation that the remaining rule protects against actually occurring even if the rule was removed.”

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