Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
It seems timely that the week Martin Moore publishes this post on the difference between the US experimentation and the UK conservatism on the hyperlocal scene, I learn the UK comparison to Danish counterparts is far less terrifying – turns out we’re much the same.
This week I went to Aarhus in Denmark on invitation by Peter From Jacobsen from Update – the research institute attached to the Danish School of Journalism. The institute holds an annual conference which has been running for six years and more recently has been exploring new developments in hyperlocal journalism.
I spent day one exploring the journalism school and speaking to Peter about some of the findings from his research in regional journalism in Denmark – and the picture is similar, as far as I can gather, to the UK.
This is all based on a very glossed-over view of what’s taking place – but the general themes of uncertainty in regional newsrooms over how to respond to hyperlocal is much the same. Local papers want to enter and participate in the hyperlocal sphere but are unsure of the best route to do so without losing time and money – or the best way to engage or compete with existing sites. The feeling of local media not wanting to offend hyperlocals and vice versa is purely British.
But Danish titles are grabbing the bull by the horns and getting stuck in with hyperlocal – and some interesting projects have emerged from unique partnerships between independent publishers and overarching regional arms.
One of the most interesting from my point of view is a project Jacobsen is involved with recruiting local people as citizen reporters for very small geographical areas who will work from an embedded paid ‘professional’ reporter from regional paper which serves a bigger area. The project is in collaboration with regional newspapers.
This reporter works with eight or nine community reporters – holding bi-monthly news meetings and they then upload stories to the site.
Peter and the journalist build up a formal network of citizens who have an interest or passion driving them to learn how to report local news. Peter gives them a manual with a short ‘how to’ of local journalism online and nurtures their abilities and use of the technology over email.
Soon the stories start flowing in, with those with a regional appeal going on the the paper. Peter said the ‘citizen reporters’ tend to be 35-year-old women who are very active in the community – and all is done voluntarily with no payment.
The reporters do get awards for the best stories, and a subsidised fee for the local newspaper. When asked about the potentially problematic idea of getting local people to do journalism which could be for the paper for free – Peter told me this really isn’t an issue in Denmark – it seems only the British are the ones really worrying about the implications of community contributors submitting content out of a compassion for their community.
As for the Danish School of Journalism itself, UK lecturers would be interested to know it essentially does the same thing – but in a far cooler building, which is light, well designed and full of pot plants. The online module is still a separate part of the course and lecturers are trying to work out how to integrate it into the core skills teaching.
Tomorrow I’ll be posting a blog looking at some specific examples of hyperlocal blogs from the conference.
Yesterday’s Talk About Local 2010 conference in partnership with Guardian Local has no doubt left hyperlocal publishers across the UK feeling inspired, enthused and reinvigorated.
After coming back to the unconference following the first one six months ago in Stoke on Trent where I went as a hyperlocal publisher for bournvillevillage.com it was great to see the changes and developments in the hyperlocal scene since last time. Read the rest of this entry »
Over the weekend a small tremour was felt across Birmingham. The distinct rumble was caused by a group of web developers, data hackers and HTML magicians who had gathered to do something wonderful – and the result was explosive.
“The one word that is bouncing about is ‘data’, and the project that is being attempted seems to be the impossible, as Hackitude creator and chief smart person Mark Steadman explains: “find any local place, event, or data” and the end result, as far as I can make out, is a website that allows you to access any available local information and search it in a coherent manner.”
Mark Steadman (@moxypark) decided people were beginning to get a bit all-talk-no-action about data mashing. So he quickly organised the event to bring together a number of people with the skills and motivation to make things happen – see my interview with him over on the BeVocal blog here. Hackitude aimed to capitalise on local digital creative talents in Birmingham to solve some of the city’s problems using data and the web. He said on his blog:
Hackitude is what I’d like to think of as a “problem solving weekend”: two nights of designing and building solutions to problems posted by the people of Birmingham. They could be anything from mapping public transport routes to adding data to building a community site to putting together an iPhone app to monitor the city’s pigeon populous. Really, anything.
Yesterday some significant ground was covered in the war to free up public data when the government announced it would move towards making Ordnance Survey maps freely available from April 2010.
Gordon Brown signed up the www inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee in June earlier this year to help the UK government reach levels similar to its US counterparts in terms of freeing up mapping data to the public. At the Smarter Government conference at Downing street yesterday afternoon Brown said:
“I think we’re on the verge of a revolution that can transform public services and the public sector. I’m speaking very specifically about how government can change to meet the needs of the times. I think we are determined to be the first government in the world to open up public information in a way that is far more accessible to the general public.”
Norway has already been leading the way in freeing up maps. Limited to individuals and not-for-profit organisations, from 1 December 2009 users can freely access maps from the Norwegian Mapping Authority, in the hope these users will come up with good solutions to a number of problems. Read the rest of this entry »
Hoards of hyperlocal bloggers descended on Stoke-on-Trent for the Talk About Local un-conference on Saturday 3 October ’09 to share ideas, debate on the future of hyperlocal and discuss common problems with a view to solving them. Sessions ran throughout the day in an informal (hence ‘un-conference’) nature – which meant anyone and everyone who had something to say had their chance to say it.
I’ve collated some of my notes from two of the discussions I went to – and some bits and pieces other people have written up from the event.