Last Thursday evening saw the awards ceremony for the third annual Wales Blog Awards, created to give ‘the best amateur bloggers in Wales’ the recognition they deserve.
A full list of the winners is here and it includes some great examples of Welsh hyperlocal websites.
We Are Cardiff
Winner of this year’s Best Blog award, the only category which is voted for by the public, was We Are Cardiff. We Are Cardiff, runner-up in the Best Community category of last year’s Wales Blog Awards, is ‘a voluntary project where we’re collecting the stories of people that live in this fine capital city of Wales’. The website provides a platform for any Cardiff resident, young or old, to tell their Cardiff story in their own words: ‘…it can be as short as one paragraph, as long a thousand words, it can be a narrative, it can be in the third person, it can even be a poem.’
It also looks to raise the city’s profile through related creative projects, such as The Little Guide to Cardiff for visitors coming for Olympics 2012 events and Portrait of a City – We Are Cardiff’s documentary film-in-the-making ‘to show you what it’s like to spend a year in the city if you aren’t on a stag do, nor interested in ‘booze-cruising’ up the main drag of St Mary Street… there are many brilliant things happening here. We want you to spend a year with us enjoying them!’
The award for Best Community Blog went to Cwmbran Life, which judges described as ‘ a fantastic reflection of all that is going on in Cwmbran’. Cwmbran Life is run by Ben Black, an ex-journalist and PR professional who has lived in the South Wales town all his life. As well as keeping local residents informed of local news, events and happenings Ben also focuses on the people and places that make Cwmbran great, using a mixture of words, photography, audio and video to tell the town’s stories. This Cwmbran coincidence post illustrates Ben’s use of multimedia and personal passion for his hometown nicely.
Cardiff Before Cardiff
Winner of the Best Multimedia Bog was Cardiff Before Cardiff, a Tumblr site created by Jon Pountney to publish an archive of documentary photography by Keith S Robertson from the 70’s and early 80’s, which Jon discovered whilst renovating Warwick Hall in Gabalfa, Cardiff (now Cardiff Music Studios).
Jon says he was ‘instantly struck by the quality of the prints and the vibrant, positive atmosphere depicted’ and to find out more about them, the photographer and his subjects, he shared them online. Word of mouth and local news coverage meant that Jon found he could make contact with many of the people in the photographs and the photographer, Keith S Robertson, who was under the belief that the photographs had been destroyed long ago. Inspired by Keith’s photography, Jon began shooting Cardiff’s communities himself and his and Keith’s photographs made up the Cardiff Before Cardiff exhibition at the Wales Millennium Centre in spring 2012.
Oggy Bloggy Ogwr
The winner of the Best Political Blog Award was Oggy Bloggy Ogwr, which is ‘not just a political blog in the usual sense of responding to the day’s political events’ but ‘an attempt to explore some of the challenges that face Wales today, and offer solutions.’ The website’s manager Owen Donovan describes it as ‘a non-aligned Welsh civic nationalist blog based in Bridgend’.
What is striking about Oggy Bloggy Ogwr is its level of detail, something which Owen puts down to his background in the sciences – posts are often long and broken up into chunks, backed up with relevant data and analysis. Also its transparency – on the introduction page Owen clearly sets out his beliefs, chief causes and political views so readers are fully informed about the author’s perspective. Last but not least is the mature debate the website facilitates – whilst it is rare for a post to receive ‘0 comments’ Owen says that ‘I’ve only had to delete a single (non spam) comment in 19 months of blogging’, which is no mean feat for a political blog.
These winners of the Wales Blog Awards reflect the variety and quality of Welsh independent community websites which, with the forthcoming launch of Cardiff University School of Journalism’s new centre for community journalism, are destined to grow in number and depth. Meanwhile, the Talk About Local team are working to ensure existing Welsh hyperlocals are logged by adding them to Openly Local’s Hyperlocal Sites Directory, using local knowledge kindly provided by We Are Cardiff’s Helia Phoenix. Hopefully this in turn will mean they are added to Dave Harte’s work with the RSS feeds of hyperlocal websites and the resulting twitter account @Alllocalnews.