Once upon a time, I ran a hyperlocal website that looked at the politics in Stoke-on-Trent, you might of heard of Pits n Pots?
I ran the site with Tony and other contributors, it was a community effort, although it was left leaning, it was fiercely non-partizan with people with different political views and standpoints getting involved. We were proud that everyone got a say, from the socialist left through to the far right, we actively engaged with the far right when nobody else would. We gave them a say, giving them the platform ultimately helped to tie the noose around their necks and I’m proud to say the BNP eventually disappeared from local politics in Stoke-on-Trent.
It was the early days of what is now known as Hyperlocal, there were no rules, we could do what we liked, we decided how we would work and what we would do, we helped make the rules, then we broke them.
As with all good things, they come to an end, Tony and I stopped talking every day, he left the site to pursue other projects. Pits n Pots carried on running in a fashion, but it would never be the same. Both Tony and I had different skills that we brought to the party and mixed in with the other contributors it worked up until the point where we went our separate ways.
I’m not going to go in to all the history of Pits n Pots, that has been done to death over the years. Getting to the point.
Recently there was the small matter of a resignation in the Stoke-on-Trent Central constituency, Tristram Hunt, resigned his seat to go and run a museum and triggered a by-election which will be held this Thursday.
This small act in Stoke-on-Trent kicked Pits n Pots back in to life, not in a publishing way but in interest, I noticed that the traffic on the site went up over night and I was contacted by different people and organisations. Some asked my opinion (I’m not sure I have a valid opinion as I no longer live in Stoke), others asked if Pits n Pots was going to restart.
It was the ‘is Pits n Pots going to restart’ question that got me thinking, why are people asking this, what is going on in Stoke-on-Trent? Stoke used to have a vibrant hyperlocal and political blogging scene, looking through the list I curate over on Local Web List, it is sad to see most of the sites listed for Stoke-on-Trent are no longer running.
Potteye appears to have been sporadic during 2016 and hasn’t published since November 16
My Tunstall seems to have stopped with no recent posts
Democracy4Stoke no longer exists
Phil BC – A very public sociologist is blogging again, he never stopped but did cut back a lot. Phil is deeply entrenched in the local Labour party and worked in the constituency office of Tristram Hunt for a time.
Most hyperlocal sites have breaks, when the contributor goes on holiday or is too busy with real world work, but have any taken an extended break and come back in the hour of need? Could a site like Pits n Pots run for a few months on the lead up to elections and maybe a short time after and then go back to sleep, coming back to life at the next election or other time of need? Or should a new site start up for the new campaign?
Maybe Facebook is the way forward for all these discussions now, people writing longer posts about their thoughts and opinions without the need for a website, or even a Facebook page or group. I had a quick trawl around Facebook, trying to beat the filter bubble and apart from the afore mentioned posts from individuals and the party pages, it all seems very quiet. Maybe I’m just not seeing it because the Facebook filter bubble is stronger than I think. If you do know of any interesting sites, pages or groups blogging about the by-election, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
Don’t worry, I don’t think that Pits n Pots will be starting up again anytime soon. Tony can be found here on his new site Wols World which after a brief flurry of posts about the upcoming election, seems to have gone quiet.
Away from Talk About Local I take photos, fly my quadcopter and walk my two Beagles.
If I'm not doing any of the above then you'll find me volunteering at my local RNLI station as a press officer.