BBC Local Live – opportunity for hyperlocal publishers?

A few people may have spotted the BBC Local Live red box things on their local BBC sites. The BBC say:

‘The module, in the top right of the Birmingham and Black Country and Derby pages, will display short updates of local news, sport, travel, weather, user comments and links to external sites and sources.’

This is a welcome attempt by the BBC to integrate more on the web with other local publishers.  The early links out, and there are plenty of them, are to tweets and well established sources.  Indeed it reminds you just how badly ‘linked out’ the majority of BBC stories are on line (the extreme case is the iPhone app which has no outgoing links at all).  The box is s nice cosmetic addition and when you compare a page with the box to one without it also show up the rather old fashioned look of most BBC local web pages.

The proof of the pudding is in what the BBC chooses to link out to – finding a wide range of local sources, large, small new and old in a variety of media.  And i hope they feel confident to include a range of hyperlocal web sources – as say Trinity Mirror do in Birmingham.  Talk About Local and others like Nick Booth have done a fair bit to help the BBC understand the hyperlocal web, let’s see if it pays off.  On a quick click around the choice at the moment is conservative, let’s see how that evolves.  No doubt there is a 20 page policy document on linkage somewhere (if there is can you publish it?).

The BBC isn’t used to losing arguments and has felt rather bruised by its various bust ups with the local media trade bodies over the years where it has often come out on the losing side.  Disputes which, to the outsider have looked rather like the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable.  This has inhibited their local presence.

So let’s hope the Local Live boxes can help do what a public service broadcaster ought to do locally online and connect people who publish and care passionately about their areas.

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william perrin

Founder of Talk About Local, Trustee of the Indigo Trust, member of UK Government transparency panels, former Policy Advisor to UK Prime Minister, former Cabinet Office senior civil servant.Open data do-er, Kings Cross London blogger. Loves countryside. Two kids, not enough sleep.
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