After nine years of working with wonderful, inspiring people who run hyperlocal websites and some fabulous media folk it’s time to close Talk About Local’s work. When I started TAL in 2009 with first (and last) employee Mike as a project to train people in deprived or isolated areas to create media they own and run I never dreamed we would meet such amazing people the length and breadth of the UK and around the world. Nothing goes on forever and it’s time for some entrepreneurial exit.
We trained people in tents, a fetid basement in Stoke-on-Trent, a mosque, a MacDonalds, a chip shop, at a Women’s Institute rally, village halls and delivered epic video training sessions all over the UK and beyond to Uganda, Borneo, Mexico and Boston. To my astonishment Talk About Local won work with some of the worlds’ biggest media companies, all puzzling about what were then new self published media and its technologies. Our pioneering use of unconferences to bring people together brought joy, friendship and insight to many. I am so pleased we have helped inject money into the hyperlocal sector by working with investors creating funds at NESTA and Carnegie UK Trust.
There were some really unexpected things along the way – pork pie rounders in Staffs university, one of our trainees apparently bringing down an entire town council, kicking off the BBCs initiative to give away local video news to others, giving evidence to the select committee, being hailed as ‘the future of journalism’, being grilled by the AHRC, inspiring an Ambridge Village website on The Archers helping set up a TV station and all sorts of spin offs in public policy including partially opening up courts data and improving the police’s ANPR. I was delighted Talk About Local won a Google Digital News Initiative grant that enabled our pioneering work on Local News Engine. Our work appeared on BBC TV (we were doing augmented reality long before it was mainstream) in the Guardian, The Times, in Parliament and most importantly the Stoke Sentinel.
Huge thanks to Sarah, Nicky, Karen, Clare, Linda and Mike and to my original backers Channel4 and Creative England as well as major partners over the years at NESTA, Good Things Foundation and Carnegie UK Trust. We worked with some wonderful talent along the way not least Adrian Short and Open Data Services. Talk About Local was always a public service, not a for profit play and we are delighted to see Centre for Community Journalism at Cardiff taking forward training and support for local grassroots media as a public service.
I’ll keep this website up at my own expense for a while as we wind up the underlying company and I move on to other projects in technology, society and media and my philanthropic work. To get in touch find me on Twitter or the contact form will route a message to me.