In the third of this mini-series to showcase some of the remarkable websites and blogs we’ve had the pleasure to be involved with, I hear from The Cricklade Bugle.
Contacting Peter of The Cricklade Bugle for our interview over Skype found him in thoughtful mood, working through the ins and outs of a dilemma with the potential for legal problems.
“I’ve recorded a meeting that was held about the local school” he explained “now I need to work out what I should do with that recording.”
It’s a problem many professional journalists have to wrestle with from time-to-time but Peter doesn’t have the back-up of an experienced newsroom to inform his decision as the retiree is the sole writer at the Bugle.
But working with multimedia – and all the considerations the immediacy that style of reportage involves – is nothing new for Peter.
Since launching the Bugle during a Talk About Local training session in February 2010, Peter has reported on events and community issues in the north Wiltshire town.
I have learnt to add Photos (Flickr), Videos (YouTube), Presentations (SlideShare), Google Maps and now on Twitter @CrickladeBugle and Facebook. Not bad eh! I have used the notes at the talk about local website. Now I feel completely confident about it.
The website has already been used by Cricklade Town Council and Wiltshire Council to consult the local community about issues such as refuse collection, car parking and redevelopment of the leisure centre. His coverage has included video reporting from a public town meeting, viewed by between 50 and 100 people.
But moves to take his camera into the decision-making meetings of the council are proving to be more tricky – at present he’s been advised that ‘legal reasons’ mean only an employee of the council could be tasked with such filming. Legal reasons that Peter is quietly investigating further.
“I am not surprised. Organisations always want to stay in control,” is his take on the issue.
Maybe it’s this quiet, but dogged, approach that means The Bugle has become such a relied upon resource for the local community.
In the 18 months it has operated, the site has formed good relationships with local MP James Gray has regular contributions from a Wilshire councillor, the historial society and a host of local events organisers looking for their details to be posted on the site.
“I am getting quietly into the confidence of people and have been at public meetings where someone has said ‘ I read that in The Bugle’.” he laughs.
Peter says he keeps up-to-date with how other community websites are progressing via the Talk About Local website, getting tips for improving his own site and sharing his support for new initiatives via Twitter.
He now hopes to develop the site further and encourage some more contributions over upcoming issues such as consultations on where local amenities should be housed and the proposals for a merger of local schools.
“I think it’s very early days for these hyperlocal sites and it needs some big major problem to bring the local community together.
“It’s a slow process, an organic growing process”
* The Cricklade Bugle is at http://cricklade.info.