Monthly Archives: April 2012

Talk About Local 12

The Pinwheel invites on the tear-off sheet disappeared quickly.

I was in Birmingham yesterday for Talk About Local 12, the fourth annual get-together of local publishers and other folks interested in hyperlocal in the UK.

As usual it was a great day with lots of interesting discussions, ranging from the ethical dilemmas of reporting local crime, to fundamental questions about the sustainability of hyperlocal sites.

On the point about sustainability, I was surprised and pleased to be given a prestigious TAL12 unaward for Best Handover, as Saddleworth News continues to flourish without me.

An old friend of mine, Kathryn Hamlett of BBC online, was there with her boss Robin Morley as part of a new effort by the corporation to forge closer links with hyperlocal sites. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out in the coming months, but including links to appropriate hyperlocals in the Related Stories sections of BBC articles, which they’ve promised to do, is a sensible first step.

Great sites from all over the UK and further afield were represented. But I’ll pick out a couple I hadn’t seen before. Both A Little Bit of Stone and Lightmoor Life were recognised in the unawards, and after a quick look at each of them it’s not difficult to see why.

I also took the opportunity to do a quick show-and-tell of Pinwheel, which I’ve been using a fair bit lately. The invites I had to dish out were quickly taken, so hopefully there should be some great new users on there soon. I’ve got some more though, so if you want an invite yourself then either tweet me your email address or put it in a comment below this post.

More Hyperlocal Thoughts For The BBC College Of Journalism

ImageThe second of my two articles for the BBC College of Journalism blog on my experiences with Saddleworth News is now online.

It’s largely about how I went about trying to sell ads to help fund it, and I offer some conclusions on what I think I learned about the financial viability of professional-standard hyperlocal sites.

You can read the piece on the BBC College blog by clicking here. There’s also an interesting discussion in the comments below.

The first article, published here last month, was all about the editorial challenges I encountered while running Saddleworth News (which I’m delighted to say is still going strong under new editor Stuart from Uppermill!).

Both pieces are taken from a chapter I’ve written from a new book, What Do We Mean By Local?, which has been edited by Neil Fowler, Ian Reeves and John Mair. It features a wide range of people from across the local and regional media having their tuppenceworth on various aspects of the state of our industry.

There’s more information and details of how to buy the book here.

Leeds MA Course Lecture 5, Social Media And The Arab Spring

I gave the last of my five lectures to MA International Journalism students in Leeds today. It was on social media and the role it is, and isn’t, playing in the ongoing uprisings of the Arab Spring.

As a journalist rather than an academic, I thought the students might appreciate a journalist’s perspective on it all. After putting the Arab Spring into a bit of historical context, I examined some of the ways in which social media and other new technologies were used, and looked at the response of the mainstream international media to the material being generated and shared in this way, including from citizen journalists.

But I told the students not to get too carried away with the notion of a ‘Facebook Revolution’ – just as the Romanian Revolution in 1989 wasn’t caused by people watching Yugoslavian TV in secret. It played a role as a way of spreading information quickly, but it was just one factor among many.

Here’s the full presentation: