18 April 2014

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‘Street-level’ news site seeks 12,000 publishers

A potentially ground-breaking bid to provide “street-level” hyperlocal news via mobile phone has been launched in Sheffield.

In one of the most ambitious experiments in citizen journalism to date, the Postcode Gazette is aiming to recruit 12,000 local publishers to deliver “hyperlocal news on a national scale.”

Although it has a web presence, it views smartphones as the principal platform for its news, events and offers service.

A pilot project went live in Sheffied yesterday with the aim of a national rollout in due course.

Managing director Chris McCormack explained:  “Where other hyperlocal efforts focus on getting one reporter for a town, including Northcliffe’s Localpeople, the Postcode Gazette is much more ambitious.

“Town level isn’t hyperlocal but street level is where things get interesting for the reader. When news happens close to us, it’s importance grows.

“As a rough rule of thumb, we are thinking in terms of one local publisher for every 5,000 people. Rather than one person to cover a town, or a handful to cover a city, we’re aiming for 50 or 100.

“The challenge for us is making sure we have enough skilled people working with us. If we get it right, then we’ll be looking at 12,000 local publishers helping us cover street level news across the country. Our aim is to deliver a hyperlocal service on a national scale.”

The new postcode-level news service has been launched with iPhone and Android apps focused on delivering news, offers, and events based on users’ postcodes, or their current location, via GPS.

Added Chris:  “I think we differ from so-called hyperlocal efforts from mainstream publishers in our ambition both in the level of news we cover, and our focus on mobile. The phone is key to all our plans.”

“Because we can reach people by postcode, local businesses that have never really had anywhere to advertise before can use us to target their nearest customer.

“This local approach brings down the cost to advertise – for just £1 you can target everyone within 1 mile of your business for 1 day. It’s simple.”

The start-up is being backed by a large advertising campaign in Sheffield which includes radio spots, a postcode specific newspaper through every door in Sheffield, billboards and posters.

The move comes weeks after The Guardian axed its hyperlocal news service, Guardian Local, saying it was not sustainable.

5 Comments

  1. ‘Street-level’ news site seeks 12000 publishers

    [...] The new postcode-level news service has been launched with iPhone and Android apps focused on delivering news, offers, and events based on users’ postcodes, or their current location, via GPS. Added Chris: “I think we differ from so-called hyperlocal … HoldTheFrontPage.co.uk [...]

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  2. Observer

    Do these citizen journalists get paid? Do they get a free iPhone. Or even any help with paying the tariff? I think we should be told.

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  3. sash

    How long before they simply start pinching stuff out of the Star? I bet they’ve started already.

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  4. MH Media, UK

    Interesting that in the email I received, this article was directly under the one covering the arrest of the MEN (professional) photographer for photographing an arrest in the street.

    Once we have a couple of “citizen journalist” arrests for doing the same thing I wonder how long this initiative will last? Of course, real journalists have access to specialist legal departments; Joe Public, Ace Reporter doesn’t.

    Should be interesting to watch!

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  5. reporter, Sheffield

    Why should we get a free phone? I may be missing something but I fail to see why that is so important. The only reason I think you may be interested is if you think we upload by using a phone. We don’t. Our aim is to deliver local news to the people in that immediate area. For example, I could report on some roadworks which will allow someone to rethink their route to work or it may be as simple as a crooked road sign that can’t be seen easily. We try for more topical “hard” news as it’s more interesting to write as well as read but we don’t ignore anything as long as there’s a local angle.

    We have a strict policy of no plagiarism so you would lose your bet sash. I found a story that I later learned had already been covered by the Star (which I don’t read) and it was taken down. However coincidences do occur but it’s always been an article in a paper after it’s been on Postcode Gazette, probably due to the delay taken to print.

    MH Media, as long as we’re on public land taking pictures, then we have the law behind us. Obviously common sense is needed on both sides but I find that Sheffield Police and City Ambassadors are pretty clued up with regards to taking pictures.

    By the way, I don’t want you to think we don’t know what we’re doing. Speaking for myself, I’m not a “citizen journalist”, I’m a professional freelance writer and this is one of my jobs that I do each month. It gets me out and about instead of sitting behind a computer all day. :O)

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  6. Local Publisher for Postcode Gazette, Sheffield

    Well said, Reporter.

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  1. By on June 14, 2011 at 7:17 am


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