There’s such a lot of activity going on in the community and independent publishing scene just now, we’ll try and track some of it and share the experience at this blog.
So here’s some snippets of news we’ve spotted recently – everything from new technology to council communication.
If you’ve also got some news about a local website, blog, facebook page or similar, we’d love to hear it either via the comments below or drop me an email (sarahATtalkaboutlocal.org) and we’ll bring you regular updates here on the blog.
Google Glass first
Wrexham.com claims to be the first local news outlet to use the augmented reality technology from Google to carry out an interview – and who are we to argue?
The story they broke with the eyewear debut was an amazing viral hit which went worldwide about a 99p shop promotion that got out of hand.
Campaigning in action
ParkStarter is an initiative to reclaim poorly used urban spaces in Manchester. Campaigning for more parks and green spaces – fewer car-parks or grey spaces and this week those involved week were able to claim partial success in their fight to stop a car park operating on a plot which could be used for recreation. The tumblr site and related twitter activity is a good example of the impact that using digital tools well can connect people around a single-issue in a community.
From print to television
Things are hotting up for local TV newcomers One and Other in York which is about to take to the telly. This week founder Stuart Goulden announced that he is to leave the news website he started in 2011 in order to focus on launching York’s local TV station. Control of the business passes to editorial director Vicky Parry.
From digital to print
The Dalstonist a website which started out covering the E8 postcode area of London, has now become a magazine as well with a 40-page Winter edition distributed free to 100 places around Hackney. The independent publisher, which focuses on youth culture and news, pays all their contributors and donated 10% of the profits from this first issue to local youth charity the Hackney Pirates.
The case against short and snappy
Up in Nairn – 15 miles North East of Inverness the Gurn from Nurn has long been a favourite for its coverage of the nitty gritty of the local civic scene. They recorded a 45 minute press conference given by the Green Party for the launch of their local government reform manifesto. It’s important stuff and choosing to video and post and entire press conference, rather than sound bite it teases out a lot of the differences between a community news outlet on the web and trad. journalism in legacy media. The blog has the time and space to cover something in full, even if sometimes this isn’t as digestible or snappy as the traditional sound bite. Both styles of course have their place and complement each other. They followed up the following day with as post. The comments are entertaining, especially the one written in Scottish.
Taking the cameras into the town hall
— William Perrin (@willperrin) February 13, 2014
In Cambridgeshire, Richard Taylor has been showing the way again with his extensive coverage of the local council on youTube and on Twitter @rtayloruk.
Councillor goes hyperlocal
Relationships between councillors and hyperlocal sites are often complicated and, let’s face it, sometimes a bit fractious so its refreshing to hear about John Fahy, @cllrjfahy, a councillor and cabinet member in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, London. As well as setting up a standalone blog for the locality,
http://woolwichideasexchange.wordpress.com, he’s also turned reporter, going out to interview and film local people of interest.
In our own backyard
On my own local website, www.richmondnoticeboard.com, I was pleased to this week launch a new look community noticeboard. The idea is to provide people in the town with an easy way to share pictures, video and text on aspects of life in this small market town. The initial stories (which you can see here) will be added to over the coming weeks and months and I’m looking forward to the feedback locally. The technology for the pages is provided by n0tice.org from the Guardian Media Group. It’s the same platform which powers Guardian Witness community platform as well fellow local independents Edinburgh Reportage (from The Edinburgh Reporter) and Leeds Stories (from The Leeds Guardian).
Down in Kings Cross, William has been chasing a long running planning issue in the community – the building of large new hotel on a derelict site. Kings Cross Environment has been following the site for six or more years in detail, meeting with the developers, their consultants and staying closely in touch with local activists and councillors via email and in the comments section on the blog. William used graphics from the developer to illustrate issues in a less complicated way that the usual planning speak.
He even videoed buses turning the corner by the site to illustrate a potential traffic hazard. However, come the crunch planning meeting WIlliam was doing family stuff that evening and couldn’t cover it. So they took the result from the Islington Gazette, who was at the planning meeting and got some decent original quotes. William went into much more depth digging out some great news about £650,000 for local community improvements as a result of the decision that the paper hadn’t covered. And the local councillor weighed in a a very handy comment about how money would be distributed within an hour or two of publication.
It’s a good example of how a blog can link up all sorts of local players, including the traditional newspaper and add a lot of value to the civic and social process. Kings Cross Environment also made full use of the versatility of a web platform to use video and images as well as the basic functionality of linking all their stories together so you can click back through the history over many years and get a sense of what has happened far more easily than on the council’s website and the local paper.
We’re getting ready to hold a session looking at the arts and culture on Teesside next weekend – there’s full details here. If you’re near the North East on Saturday 22 February we’d love to see you there.