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Hyperlocal journalism needs ‘urgent’ support, says report

Damian Radcliffe

Hyperlocal journalism in the UK needs “urgent intervention” to support it, according to a new report released today.

Digital analyst Damian Radcliffe, left, will raise concerns about the sector’s sustainability at a conference on community journalism hosted by Cardiff University and innovation charity Nesta today.

In a report, which examines the state of hyperlocal journalism, Damian also recommends that publishers are offered the chance to sell content to the BBC and should be considered as suppliers for statutory notices.

Damian, who is an honorary research fellow at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture Studies, will call for greater recognition and support for hyperlocal journalism at the conference.

His report, entitled ‘Where are we now?’ which was produced in collaboration with Nesta, looks at the contribution of hyperlocal platforms to civic life, against a backdrop of closures and cutbacks in the regional press.

It also showcases innovative business models and examples of community journalism influencing grassroots decision-making, but also raises concerns about sustainability of the sector.

Damian said: “We have the strongest indication yet of the civic and public value hyperlocal media creates in undertaking a range of journalistic and community outputs, from holding authority to account through to running campaigns and reporting on local events.

“Yet, despite this increased recognition and understanding, the core issues that challenge the prosperity of UK hyperlocal media remain unchanged, meaning the sector has no degree of long-term certainty.

“For too many community publishers, their existence remains hand-to-mouth, which has an inevitable impact on both the sustainability and the appeal of the sector to new entrants.

“With research showing one in four internet users accesses local websites or apps, today’s report outlines the huge opportunities, as well as challenges, for community journalism in the UK, showing its potential as a vibrant sector that delivers demonstrable public value to society and one for which there is a greater need than ever before.”

Recommendations in his report to support hyperlocal publishers include encouraging companies like Google to make their content more discoverable, providing accreditation from the National Union of Journalists and securing clarity from politicians and regulators on the new press regulation regime.

Damien will be joined at the event by world-leading experts including Daniel Gillmor, who holds roles at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, who will set out the success of US community news initiatives.

The conference has been organised by Cardiff University’s Centre for Community Journalism and more than 150 delegates are expected to attend.


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  • September 9, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Direct link to overview page

    PDF report

    I take the opposite from the headline, that hyperlocals seem to have grown from zero without support and are replacing local papers and traditional media in some areas.

    It is so much a growth area there are ongoing secondary academic roles emerging it appears!

    Much like the news yesterday about the BBC plans about the BBC sharing content, there is a suggest of ‘sell content to the BBC’. That smacks of more hidden state subsidy.

    If the BBC and locals/regionals were doing their paid jobs well, these self funded often voluntary print/social/web operations wouldn’t exist.

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  • September 9, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    I’ve got one hyperlocal in my area which is marvellous. His website is miles better than the JP rival because I can read police press releases on the day they come out, instead of a massive wodge of them in the turgid pages of my weekly.

    He’s well known in the town, well liked, gets invited to the opening of absolutely everything and invests a lot of time in his business. I can see him staying the course but I can’t say that about the weekly paper, or its website.

    Surprising how much one man can actually achieve, compared to a newspaper with an editor and half a dozen reporters.

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