So the BBC has been ticked off by its Trust (the governors in old money) for delivering local news that isn’t local, lacks relevance and is weak online.
‘To improve BBC Online we have set out a number of actions, including: BBC management should develop plans for BBC Online to provide a better local offer’
‘One area for improvement is the provision of local content, particularly local news. The Trust’s Audience Councils, as well as our audience research and public consultation, suggested that BBC Online’s local offer is not as strong as its UK and international news. For instance, local news stories are not updated frequently and news coverage is not particularly comprehensive in most localities. In addition, BBC local sites are organised around regions or counties, which are perceived as being too large to be locally relevant.
Audience Council England was of the firm view that the local and regional news pages are of a significantly poorer standard compared with the UK and international news’
My in boxes are already accumulating messages from people worried that this means another BBC/local news confrontation like the video debacle that will crowd out independents and hammer yet more nails into the coffin lid of local papers.
But it needn’t be like this. With Nick Booth and other hyperlocals we have been trying for a couple of years now to get the BBC to work more co-operatively on the ground with independent web sites. We helped the BBC convene meetups with local web sites in the West Midlands. There have been some improvement to the BBC local online presence. Some years ago Talk About Local also helped Trinity Mirror establish a working relationship with local bloggers in Birmingham.
Given that even the multi-billion BBC doesn’t have bottomless pockets, given its high cost way of doing things I wonder if now isn’t the time to do something completely different and embark on a huge co-operation and sharing exercise at a local level. Why can’t the BBC work with other local providers to share the content it produces on modern, free and easy terms. So that we are free to reuse BBC content under only a light attribution. And in some areas evolve co-operative models of news gathering and distribution with the public service broadcaster at its heart. It could be a huge world-leading experiment and bring some much needed innovation to local news in the UK.
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