Royal visits, as every publisher of local news knows, still provoke a huge amount of local interest and excitement. Add into that an aspect of local heritage and history – the first time in 50 years that soldiers have exercised their freedom of the town right to match with bayonets – and it’s a spectacle that will make a major impact in a small market town.
And so it was for my own hyperlocal site, The Richmond Noticeboard this week. Royal visits also have their own protocols and procedures and so I wasn’t actually sure I’d be able to report from the non-public side of the cordon.
Although the site has been around for a few years now, we don’t typically receive the notifications or invitations so I made the request direct to the organisers. In this case the arrangements were made by the army press office who were incredible helpful. A little surprised that I’d be doing words and pictures, but professional and happy to explain the procedures for the day – they’ve even offered additional content from their own photographer for the private parts of the visit which I’m expecting to receive today.
The resulting gallery of pictures, the live tweets, (quick and dirty) video, audio that I was able to share have already had more than 3,000 views and will undoubtedly be the single biggest event for local readers this month. I’m delighted with the reaction – but it could be so much more.
The local BBC had an audio package. The BBC listen again link is here – you’d need to start 20 minutes in to enjoy it and sadly it would be difficult for anyone to know that’d be the case as the segment isn’t shareable.
But wouldn’t it be great if a short clip of that BBC coverage had been made available? Or the video from the newspapers? Properly attributed and linked from of course. I could have included it as a stand alone audio or added it to the video and photography clips I had to make a whole new interactive package for my local readers.
Ditto the local papers who could have traded their words for some extra online audio content or an extra video and pictures for their readers.
More pictures, video and audio which would be for the mutual benefit of my hyperlocal readers AND those of the publications and broadcasters. As an aside, presumably that pre-roll advertiser would relish the opportunity to be distributed further afield too (not on the BBC obviously).
The sort of collaboration that would require has always proved thorny issues with the desire for exclusivity and market competition among the paid titles leading to (somewhat outdated?) wariness about promoting the licensee fee paid-for BBC or free-to-air local enterprises such as hyperlocals.
The recent Revival of Local Journalism event in Salford got into discussion about this issue with “James Harding (BBC director of news and current affairs) and David Holdsworth (Controller Nations and Regions) agreed in a polite, non-specific way that this was ‘the sort of thing we would look at’.”
So it’s heartening to hear that this conference wish is being taken forward on the ground with the first meeting of interested parties having taken place recently.
Representatives from the BBC along with some from the major newspaper groups of Trinity Mirror and Newsquest, local TV licence holder Archant as well as hyperlocal funder the Carnegie Trust* have been looking at what could be involved in content sharing and syndication.
Early days for those negotiations it maybe, but joining those dots and embracing the hyperlocal sector would seem to offer a way forward – with readers, viewers and listeners the people who’ll ultimately benefit.
* Disclosure: talk about local is the evaluation partner for the Carnegie Trust’s Neighbourhood News initiative.