New OFCOM figures in association with a major AHRC research consortium, of which Talk About Local is a member, for the first time gives some hard official numbers on the importance of hyperlocal media in the UK. OFCOM’s annual statistical ‘bible’ of the UK communications market ‘Communications Market Report 2012′ contains a good section on hyperlocal media.
TAL is a member of the research consortium lead by Cardiff School of Journalism, with Birmingham City University as a partner focussing on the hyperlocal web. As the ‘industry partner’ in the consortium TAL pushed hard for market relevant research published in real time. It’s wonderful to see BCU (Dave Harte) responding to this and forming a publishing partnership with OFCOM. It’s good to see OFCOM inserting questions about hyperlocal into its major survey. The OFCOM and BCU research draws heavily upon Openly Local hyperlocal database that TAL now maintains.
The research shows that people rate hyperlocal websites higher than local newspaper websites. It also shows under representation of hyperlocal media in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Birmingham leads the way in UK cities. This research is only a start, lots more needs to be done to deepen understanding of the sector and improve the data – the AHRC consortium runs for several years yet and OFCOM have committed to continue their interest in hyperlocal media. Dave Harte has published his background paper on which OFCOM drew.
Here’s an abstract from the OFCOM paper, the full work can be found in the pdf at this link on page 103.
Hyperlocal websites (page 103) Local community, or ‘hyperlocal’ websites, can be described as online news or content services pertaining to a town, village, single postcode or other small, geographically defined, community.
• Around one in seven (14%) UK adults say that they use local community websites at least monthly. Adults aged between 25-34 are more likely to use these services (22%), while those aged over 65 are less likely (7%).
• To those that use them, local community websites are important, with 37% of users rating the importance of services as 7 or more out of 10. Although not as high as the importance ascribed by viewers (59%) to local news on television, this is higher than other services such as local newspaper websites (27%).
• There are more than 400 hyperlocal websites in the UK producing original news stories, the vast majority of which (93%) are in England. In general, sites are clustered around large urban conurbations, with London (77 websites), Birmingham (28 websites) and Bristol (8 sites) all particularly well served.
• Collectively they produce almost 2500 stories a week, or the equivalent of 5.6 stories per week per site.