With Rachel Sterne of Ground Report I co-chaired a meeting of folk interested in hyperlocal media in the UK. The meeting was at the Department of Culture Media and Sport at the request of Sion Simon MP the UK Culture Minister in advance of the digital britain bill. I shall post more on the discussion when i have had time to reflect. But to make the meeting as transparent as possible here is some of the core information.
The meeting had the Twitter hashtag #cabinet and there is a Tweetdoc. The group was informed by Rachel Sterne’s slides dissecting the hyperlocal market and Douglas McCabe’s statistics from Enders. Three good posts have already emerged; from Hannah Waldram at Podnosh including attendees and two from Paul Bradshaw
At the end of the session the participants stuck post its on a boards with suggestions for what the government should and shouldn’t do in this sector. Here are those post its in the raw, as transcribed by DCMS staff and grouped into themes (some came from tweets). The post its were un-attributed.
Things Government could / should do
From @ journotutor: Sort out libel laws, stop wasting money on writing national occupational standards and develop digital literacy.
Reform libel laws.
Water down/remove draconian libel laws.
Clarify legal responsibilities and liabilities of publishers of user-generated content.
Immunity for defamation arising from comments.
Open arts funding to journalism.
Can we have a UK Knight Foundation to promote enterprise?
Run competition X Prize to innovate.
Increase size of community radio fund and open it up to all community media.
Subsidise local public service reporting for use by anyone (or tax breaks).
Free Wi-fi in cities please!
Broadband for all.
Get MORE people online.
If you get people online they will figure out the rest.
Let the market determine localities and interests. The Govt needs to be transparent. Not a nanny.
Incentivise employers (subsidies, grants etc.) to train staff in citizen journalism technologies.
Work in schools as a valid local platform for area-wide learning and citizen journalism.
Support grass-roots digital training for active citizens.
Train citizens to be leaders not writers.
From @ dilyan-damyanov: Promote a culture where bloggers are treated with the same respect as journalists.
Treat hyper local authors, publishers, bloggers the same as traditional media.
Defend BBC and notion of public service (as opposed to market funded) information.
Open up BBC and other public service skills and support resources in e.g. journalism and law to 3rd parties.
Prevent BBC from launching more localised sites.
Require BBC to make video news content available to grass roots publishers and not just legacy players.
BBC create innovations fund.
Prompt the BBC to provide its technology for distributed media/journalism.
Prevent councils from distorting publishing market by running ad-funded propaganda newspapers.
Get councils to publish data (in an open format).
Develop guidelines for councils so they realise they should treat local bloggers as they would the local press.
Provide clearer guidelines for council publications e.g. should they have a property section like Huf News does.
Make sure local authorities treat hyperlocal reporters the same way (?) they would traditional media easy access to councillors / police etc.
Require councils to audio / video stream meetings and provide on-demand archive.
Access to data
Free all the data intelligently, faster and better. The more I think about it, the more I think this is the nearest there is to a single key.
Make information free by default (rather than FOI by request) and then keep out of the way and let hyperlocal blogs and twitter deliver.
Put out geocoded data easy to use.
Free up data and FOI.
Fund Geo-location tools / standards for info.
Release postcodes and other geo-data to encourage innovation.
Require all Govt / Public information to be published web first.
Set standards for publicly funded information.
Broaden FOI to include anyone spending public £.
When you free our data, combine it with an engagement plan that provides support to those that want to use it.
Encourage ultra small scale experimentation with low overheads and low cost of failure.
Use open hyperlocal approach to enhance Total Place agenda and pilot different models.
Have a clear vision and strategy for democratic renewal / reform, which guides their investment.
Monitor and evaluate civic impact of citizen journalism net benefit or harm to civil society.
Act as a catalyst to encourage openness to dialogue with neighbourhood/hyperlocal sites.
Consider and publish impact assessments of major interventions eg newspapers.
Add journalism as act of supported volunteering.
WHAT GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT DO
Fund IFNCs. They will duplicate the BBC and distort the market.
Invest in new structures without consideration of their sustainability and legacy.
Fund unsustainable local publishing initiatives which don’t have ongoing (+multiple) funding sources.
Drag out the death cry of publishers through subsidy.
Bail out failing publishers or support traditional business models.
Bail out Channel 3 local/regional services.
Spend time/money on platforms.
Build a platform for news.
Stop council papers.
Don’t stop councils publishing.
Don’t stop councils publishing magazines, but set parameters to avoid undermining independent publishers (eg carrying ads).
Exclude people. Have multiple engagement platforms online and offline.
Forget that 15m are not online and that traditional media still has a role to play for many citizens.
Decimate the BBC. Yes it’s not perfect and could do more, but if we over slice and dice we may be worse not better off.
Introduce expensive top-down solutions and one- size-fits all platforms.
Make their own apps for opening government data.
Use Government defined boundaries/identities to determine provision of tools and resources should enable self-definition of need/ [illegible]?
Assume information holes to plug are traditional media shaped.
Let big organisations have too much influence they’ll stifle.
Define journalism by platform.
Be a nanny!
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