Is hyperlocal news set to challenge local newspapers?
Hyperlocal News – what is it and why should we take note?
On Tuesday I was at Social Media Cafe Manchester, held at the BBC on Oxford Road.
A good venue – I am sure the drinks are subsidised, well a little bit – and not a bad turnout at all.
As usual the attendees include a range of professionals from journalism, PR, digital and other interested parties such as Salford / Manchester creative & digital recruitment agency Orchard.
Anyway on to business and in particular the first talk (and the one I will talk about) on hyperlocal news.
What is it you ask, well might be asking?
If you will allow a little short cut, Wikipedia gives the following explanation:
“Hyperlocal content, often referred to as hyperlocal news, is characterized by three major elements. Firstly, it refers to entities and events that are located within a well defined, community scale area. Secondly, it is intended primarily for consumption by residents of that area. Thirdly, it is created by a resident of the location.”
Local journalists Nigel Barlow and Richard Jones were on hand to talk about the issues as well as mention that they are planning an M60 blog to be launched in April (Manchester’s answer to the M25) .
They are other Hyperlocal news blogs such as ones for Lichfield and Sunderland.
The benefits of Hyperlocal news is, or are claimed, to be more versatile, vigilant and immediate.
But without the necessary advertising revenue it is not a sustainable business model as both Richard and Nigel admitted. The value of having community based news has to be recognised by local government and associated organisations for it prosper. There is the big sell.
Yet hyperlocal news was proposed as vital for democracy. Richard expounded the view that robust reporting of say a council meeting can be done better by hyperlocal news than a traditional newspaper that is relying on press releases owing to lack of resource.
Simon Wharton of PushOn commented, when the talk was opened up to the floor, that search and hyperlocal news are ideally suited to one another and the volume of content with a focused reference will be picked up by search.
One local example is Salford Online, which is in the process of developing its reach in the city. It seems to be looking at both the advertising and community based funding model. It should make interesting viewing as it progresses. I know Brian who runs the team is putting his all into making it work – it has made good progress.
Nigel Barlow concluded: “No-one has got the journalistic model right and we need to come out of the ad recession before it will be possible to make a call.” We are all wondering about that to some level.