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Newsquest launches hyperlocal websites

Newsquest is launching a wave of hyperlocal websites for its newspaper titles in the Midlands.

The Kidderminster Shuttle has already gone live with its 24 sites and it will be shortly followed by six other newspaper websites in the area – Stourbridge News, Halesowen News, Dudley News, Bromsgrove Advertiser, Redditch Advertiser and Droitwich Advertiser.

The Shuttle is now recruiting citizen correspondents in the surrounding area to contribute news from their patch with the capacity to carry video and audio reports a future possibility.

A deal was recently struck between the Shuttle and Midlands-based Chamber TV involving the television channel providing video for the title’s website in exchange for news stories.

Clive Joyce, digital editorial development manager for the seven Newsquest titles, said: “On the commercial side, we are opening up new opportunities to businesses that operate in the wider community but want to target specific areas with their advertising.

“It is also an opportunity for smaller businesses based in our rural communities to promote themselves with targeted messages on our hyperlocal sections.”


Chris Gaynor (17/04/2009 08:34:50)
So, they are jumping on the citizen journalism bandwagon are they? How much are they going to pay these citizen correspondents?

Col Kurtz (17/04/2009 09:54:00)
So in other words Newsquest is sacking journalists by the thousands, crushing the quality of its papers and is replacing it with some pitiful websites run by non-paid amateurs.
Newsquest is a true enemy of journalim.

CD (17/04/2009 11:16:48)
Hyper-local news is potentially great – but only if it’s done well ie quality coverage, with trained journalists, trained photographers, actually on patch and not in some ‘hub’ 50 miles away. One only has to look at the Tindle group to see how this can work.
Unfortunately the muppets who run our newspapers see community correspondents as an easy way to save £15k per reporter, failing to realise they’ll lose far more due to loss of advertising as readers depart in their droves. Another nail in the coffin – well done Newsquest.

Web Man (17/04/2009 11:36:18)
This is a strange story, with an even stranger reaction to it. Many other centres around Newsquest have been running ‘hyperlocal’ or ‘citizen journalist’ sites for at least a couple of years now. It’s not really a surprise these Midlands titles are doing it, it is a surprise it’s taken them so long to get around to it as it’s hardly a new concept now.

CD (17/04/2009 12:01:47)
Web Man: Your post is curious in itself. Why is it a strange reaction to be concerned about what community correspondents mean for the standards, not to mention the profitability, of journalism? Just ten minutes ago I heard our web editor on the phone to some of his team of CCs. Highlights of the matters raised included having to go into explicit detail why not making up facts in copy was important to one, after a number of complaints had been received about a story they had uploaded, while another was questioning why a headline was really necessary.
Of course they’re not a new idea – but they’re one of the many reasons why this industry is in the state it’s in. It’s stranger still that no one in management have clocked on yet that this is the case.

John (17/04/2009 12:18:18)
Am I alone in remembering when local weekly papers had village correspondents, untrained local people, covering hyperlocal events such as who gave the sermon at the Sunday church service, and even writing their own diary piece? The only difference is that their copy was subbed by trained journalists. And yes, they were paid a linage rate for what was actually printed. So as long as these new style correspondents’ copy is checked before publication, what’s the difference?

CD (17/04/2009 12:39:22)
Unfortunately John, that *is* the difference. Where I am, at least, the subs don’t see the CCs’ work. Numbers are cut to the bone too much to focus on anything other than the papers and reporters have been told to upload stories straight onto the websites in an attempt to get a 24-hour news model. It’s the same for the community correspondents. How worrying is that?
The other difference from what you used to experience is that they’re not paid a penny. Neither are bloggers. They’re all doing it just for the experience – except what they’re not being told is that their unpaid work is helping to limit the opportunities for them to be a paid journalist in the future.

J (17/04/2009 14:27:28)
I think maybe the difference John is that this article perhaps outlines the future: citizen ‘journalists’ compiling websites that hardly anyone will read whilst making £20 a year in profits, whilst local newspapers disappear for good. My moto is: good journalism often costs big money. And I just don’t see how these websites can re-capture what journalism was, or at least should be, quality or profit-wise. I hope I am wrong, and that we journalists will find our way in this digital revolution and that, more importantly, journalism will one day be brilliant.

J (17/04/2009 14:29:10)
Does anyone know how much money sites like the above make?

Web Man (20/04/2009 14:25:56)
The point I was making CD was that any furore over citizen journalists should have happened a couple of years ago when newspapers here first started using them. Moaning about it now is a bit late. Besides, if there was a list of reasons for journalism being in the state it is then citizen journalists would be very low down, in my opinion. When you have newly trained reporters who are content to sit on their backsides and wait for the next council press release to arrive in their inbox rather than get out and find good stories then it’s no wonder newspapers turn to outside sources for the reporting of some local news.

CD (21/04/2009 10:49:56)
Webman: You’re absolutely correct that people should have been complaining a couple of years ago. And people were. Just like journalists and readers complained when their papers’ offices were being taken out of town to save costs. Unfortunately, shareholders’ voices are the voices being listened to in this business.
As for the point about journalists not being able to get out of the offices – well, exactly, but you’re blaming the little guys when the bigger picture is to blame. Lazy journalism has been about seen the dawn of the printing press, but I see many hard-working young reporters who are desperate to get out on patch but simply can’t do so enough enough because their office is more than 10 miles away fromit and they have spend their time churning out stories because the number of their work colleagues has been mysteriously reduced. Don’t blame them, blame the business model.

Frustrated (22/04/2009 12:17:34)
The only possible reason for this can be to save money because anything good reported on these sites would’ve been reported on the main site anyway but with the benefit of training and legal knowlege.
So presumably the plan is to keep one or two hacks to sub the community copy, and write patch-wide stories like council stuff while the citizen types get paid nothing.
Then again a lot of what reporters do now really doesn’t require much training, sadly. How much training do you need to rewrite a press release? And how often do you do a proper story where all your information is gathered by actually talking to people and doing shorthand? Even quite serious stories involve emailed responses from police or council press officers, info gathered from the internet and so on.
I know it’s against the grain but given the access citizens and for that matter organisations, have to the internet and their ability to use it to repor
t stuff they know, usually before we do, reporters should do what only they can do – find out stuff nobody else knows, make connections, dig out scandal, scrutinise what the Government, councils and other big organisations are doing and report court accurately. And not be plugged into the net regurgitating what’s already out there anyway just to upload x number of stories a day.
Really it’s like using a doctor to dress a grazed knee while letting cancer go undetected.