Community Journalism – Week 2

Robert Mills

Another great week of content and discussion from the Community Journalism course. Here’s a summary of the bits I found most interesting, useful and thought provoking.

A Director from Ofcom stated that 90% of people in the UK access local news on a regular basis. The most popular method for this is as expected, television. A third of people access local news via the web and this continues to increase. Not exactly surprising stats there but good to reaffirm what we already know.

The video that outlined these stats went on to tell us that the web can deliver real time news in a way TV cannot so therefore the internet is tailor made for the needs of local news services. I guess we’ve all seen breaking news from Twitter for example and then followed along with any developments by searching a particular hashtag. Short, sharp nuggets of information as events unfold.

The Director also stated that increased usage of smartphones and tablets is changing the way people access and consume media and one consequence of this is that news can be more visual and move beyond text only.

Dr Andy Williams asked the question of whose voice gets heard in local news reporting and this was discussed in line with the fact that the web has enabled new forms of journalism. 7% of people in the UK access a local website at least once a week. He said the key is in trying to understand the value of the web as an emergent form of news. To try and achieve this understanding, his team did a content analysis of hyperlocal news in the UK.

For 11 days in May 2012, they analysed 2000 stories and the trend in voices/topics being heard/covered was, starting with the most popular:

Community > Government > Sport > Crime > Business > Environment > Entertainment

Politicians and businesses have a large voice through hyperlocal and community journalism sites, but there is more of a voice for local people in the community too.

The course then offered plenty of practical advice for anyone considering setting up a hyperlocal site or resource. It hammered home the importance of being organised, things to consider before you commit to the project and listed the resources and help available. They also shared a flowchart and one point on there was simply ‘create your brand – logo, tone of voice.’ That made me shudder due to my day job and the importance I would give to that but there again, that’s not the focus of the course!

The most valuable part of this week’s content came towards the end when they shared and discussed the tools available to help find your story and audience via social media. I do use social media but not in the way demonstrated in the course so that was very interesting, not least the Facebook Graph Search which I have now joined the waiting list for. They showed how this can work to find people on Facebook who, for example, are in Cardiff and like swimming. It was a little scary in some ways but if you are researching a story or trying to find local people involved in specific things then this may well be a valuable avenue.

So all in all, I wasn’t as engaged with the content this week and it didn’t seem to be as transferable to working with clients on their sites as the first week. ┬áIt was still interesting though with plenty to think about. I’m very much looking forward to week 3 now, building an engaged community.

If you liked this, you might like:

Community Journalism – Week 1

Community Journalism – Week 3

Community Journalism – Week 4

Community Journalism – Week 5


Header images taken from a post on BuzzFeed