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.