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#GEN2012: Hyperlocal and ‘mobile interactive journalism’ in Hamburg

June 1st, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Hyperlocal, Local media

An interesting project in local reporting by Abendblatt in Hamburg was outlined by Felix Bellinger, managing director of mobile & apps at Axel Springer, at the News World Summit in Paris today.

The project, called Mein Quartier (My Part of Town) saw on-the-ground reporters – who were freelancers appointed based on their “matching” to the district – filing stories from seven city districts in a bid to increase “local insight and intensify local coverage”.

Mein Quartier, which is available to access via an iPhone app, started as a pilot project for Abendblatt, but this year it is being developed into a “large scale district campaign” and an “integral part of news reporting” for the title.

We found the project very successful in terms of hits and feedback and in terms of business.

He added that as well as reaching a new target group the project helped attract no advertisers.

Building up local website and mobile fields means creating new space for advertisers.

The newspaper is now moving into the “next phase”, he told the conference, which will see reporting from all 104 districts of Hamburg. And while the pilot project engaged 25 reporters on the ground, the expansion will see the entire editorial staff of Abendblatt reporting from the districts.

The best thing to worship a project is to shift it to editorial and say ‘this is everyday life now, not a project anymore’

As a result the district coverage falls within its mainstream regional content, which is paid-for as part of Abendblatt’s freemium model. During the pilot the project was free to view.

Development is currently underway to create space on the website for each of the 104 districts. Work is also underway to develop the mobile app to enable it to map each district.

There are also plans to publish a book by the end of this year featuring all the stories that have been published about Hamburg’s districts.

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NESTA director ‘very pleased’ with number of applications to hyperlocal project

May 31st, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Hyperlocal, Mobile

A hyperlocal initiative from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) has seen over 165 applications made for its pot of £500,000 in seed funding. Applicants face stiff competition as only 10 will receive the money and guidance from the charity and its partners.

The Destination Local project aims to stimulate the hyperlocal media sector with innovation in mobile and location technologies. As Journalism.co.uk reported last month the charity produced a 15,000 word report on its vision for the future of hyperlocal media in the UK. The report highlighted the penetration of GPS capable smartphones as a key innovation opportunity for hyperlocals.

NESTA say it is encouraged by the number of applications received for the project. Director of creative economy programmes Jon Kingsbury told Journalism.co.uk:

We are never really sure (of the the level of interest) when we have a call for funding but I’m really pleased with the number of applications. It demonstrates that there’s some demand and willingness in hyperlocal to be innovative and sustainable.

He said he is also pleased by the range of applications they have received:

What we are looking at is a broad mix of hyperlocal services. There is the provision of news and information but also other ways of benefiting communities with mobile and local technology such as local service provision.

One of the applicants, Simon Perry of VentnorBlog, says the competition has created a lot of interest among hyperlocals:

It has stimulated a lot of thought, people had to think a lot when putting their bids in. I know when we were going through ideas we went through various iterations before we decided on the one for our bid. I think it has really stimulated the market just by having the competition. It’s got people thinking ‘ok, what are we going to do with mobile?’

NESTA have produced a YouTube playlist of all the applicants’s pitches for the project and have produced a map showing where all these have come from:

[iframe src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=MAP&q=select+col0+from+1r2Z9WBXoXuhB2cDCc2hcO3zGqUj2uubbUHMysOQ&h=false&lat=54.1045584605061&lng=-3.0414486500000066&z=6&t=1&l=col0" width="540" height="450"]

 

The Destination Local judging panel have until 28 June 28 to sift through the applications to select the 10 projects who will be eligible for the £50,0000 funding.

Source: Simon Perry via hyperlocal n0tice

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Mike Rawlins on how Pits n Pots offers ‘a proper good pub discussion’ around politics online

May 10th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Hyperlocal, Traffic

Mike Rawlins, founder of the Stoke-based political hyperlocal site Pits n Pots spoke at the regional Society of Editors meeting today, on the site’s origins and where it plans to move to in the future.

Born out of a desire to “see the city improve”, Rawlins argued that the site aimed to cater for a what he felt was a need for more discussion around local politics, adding that the site’s highly active comment threads today are like a “a proper good pub discussion”.

Pits n Pots holds a simple ethos:

  • no editing in audio interviews
  • no editing of video interviews
  • no spinning stories: it’s always just straight down the line
  • any political parties get to use the platform

As Pits n Pots is run by enthusiasts, rather than journalists, it focusses on providing the information, and allows the community to read into it. Not editing interviews also minimises the need for technical expertise.

The site has seen a rapid growth in traffic, moving from around 1,900 unique visitors a day, with 6,000 pageviews in December 2009, up to approximately 12,000 unique visitors and 30,000 pageviews a day in April and May of 2011 as the site provided far more comprehensive coverage of the local elections than the local press. Other successes for the site include providing live coverage of a Stoke on Trent EDL rally, and posting videos from their coverage of the day which resulted in them being the 2nd highest news channel on YouTube globally for two days.

Now supported by the Journalism Foundation, April 2012 saw Pits n Pots attempt a print format, produced by the journalism students at Staffordshire University, printing 50,000 copies. Journalism.co.uk reported that this one-off print edition, which was created as a marketing tool, helped to double Pits n Pots web traffic.

Rawlins says that the site will never be a full time job for him, but he hopes to employ a journalist in the future to progress the site, to facilitate better use of data, more investigative content, and allow better scrutiny of the local council.

He concluded that hyperlocal sites like Pits n Pots would never replace the local paper, and that they can coexist.

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Guardian’s n0tice launches Facebook sharing app

Online noticeboard n0tice has launched a Facebook sharing app, allowing users to “amplify activity” and spread posts virally.

The Guardian set up n0tice as a platform to utilise developments in social, local and mobile. It allows hyperlocals to brand their own noticeboard and keep 85 per cent of the revenue generated by charging for small ads.

A blog post published today states that n0tice’s new Facebook app allows users to automatically post content to their Facebook activity stream.

n0tice will automatically update your Facebook page when you follow people and noticeboards, star things you find interesting, or post reports, events or offers to n0tice.  The app does not share passive actions to your Facebook page such as what you are reading on n0tice.com, only explicit actions that you trigger such as following, posting, reposting, and voting.

The n0tice app for Facebook will help spread things you are doing on n0tice further around the world and help others to discover what’s happening.

 

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Charity offering £1m funding to hyperlocal sector

April 19th, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Hyperlocal, Local media

A major report into the advancement of the hyperlocal press was published earlier this month, alongside a £1 million investment to stimulate the sector.

Destination Local, a 15,000 word study, identifies the technologies, business models, and content opportunities for a successful hyperlocal media sector in the UK. The report states that new location-based technologies, such as mobile phones with GPS, “offer a potential revolution for very local – or hyperlocal – media”.

Author Damian Radcliffe analyses the challenges faced by the traditional media trying to access local people, and hyperlocal bloggers looking to widen their audience.

The report was funded by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), an independent charity providing grants to digital innovation research projects. NESTA is offering 10 organisations up to £50,000 each to develop next generation hyperlocal media services.

The Technology Strategy Board is running a parallel competition offering ten local cross-media platforms up to £56,250 of grant funding each.

A spokesperson for NESTA told Journalism.co.uk that although traditional business models are being challenged by the web, “the democratisation of media means that actually there has never been a better or easier time to set up and run a local media service.

Making it pay of course is another thing. The Destination Local programme aims to better understand the economics of delivering hyperlocal media at scale, in a sustainable way.

The application process closes on 17 May and successful bids will be notified by 29 June.

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Media release: Students produce one-off newspaper

April 5th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Hyperlocal, Local media, Newspapers

A group of journalism students at Staffordshire University have produced a newspaper to promote political and news comment site Pits n Pots.

The unique publication, which will be delivered to some 50,000 houses across Stoke-on-Trent next week, features 16 pages of community and political news as well as features and profiles of community champions.

The initiative saw volunteers given just three weeks to assemble a team, research and create content and finally design the paper.

Andrew Bettridge, who edited the paper, said:

It was a brilliant effort by the whole team to get the paper produced in such a short space of time. It was a lot of hard work but we all had great fun working on it and we are all very proud of the finished result. I hope the people of Stoke-on Trent enjoy reading it.

“The skills we have picked up from the teaching staff at Staffordshire University have helped us to put together a slick and professional newspaper.

Mike Rawlins of the Pits n Pots website said:

“The site is run by local volunteers who write about politics and issues that they are interested in. They write because they are passionate about what they believe in.”

The project is backed by The Journalism Foundation which has been working with Pits n Pots to reprofile the site while boosting community engagement.

Head of the foundation Simon Kelner, former editor of the Independent, and managing director Charlie Burgess, formerly of the Independent and the Guardian, visited the Staffordshire University newsroom during the process.

Burgess said:

“It was great to work with such an enthusiastic group of students who understood what The Journalism Foundation was doing. The project would not have been possible without them – and I hope they felt it was of benefit to them too. Staffordshire University were fantastic with their support.”

Jackie Gregory, senior lecturer in journalism at Staffordshire University, said:

“Around a dozen students, who all have a busy university workload, gave up many hours of their own time to produce this paper. They worked under pressure with great dedication and humour. It was a learning curve but they can be proud of the result.”

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Guardian hyperlocal platform n0tice now open to all

March 21st, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Hyperlocal, Mobile

The Guardian’s latest venture into hyperlocal publishing is now open to all with the “full open release” of n0tice.

Matt McAlister, director of digital strategy for the Guardian Media Group, presented the social, local, mobile offering at today’s Changing Media Summit.

The seed of the idea came out of a Guardian Hack Day project inspired by geolocation services.

McAlister explained the concept to Journalism.co.uk, which has tracked the progress of n0tice:

If the phone knows where you are and if I see something interesting around me, why can’t I report on that and be an active citizen journalist or participant?

The team evolved the idea into “a community service explicitly tied to a location, almost as a navigation or a filter for finding information”.

Since accepting members by invitation only, early users have been influencing its development.

The platform has opportunities for hyperlocal news sites, which can brand a noticeboard, tracking interaction using web analytics.

Some hyperlocals have adopted n0tice as “their events database, essentially submitting events directly onto notice but with their brand and look and feel”.

McAlister explained that it can increase engagement for hyperlocals.

WordPress is a wonderful publishing environment but it’s not as good as crowdsourcing reports. You can get someone to comment on something you’ve written but it’s not as good for letting anyone share anything original directly into a community space.

The platform also has wider opportunities for hyperlocals and other users: they can potentially make money by creating a noticeboard.

Based on a classifieds system with users paying for premium ads, noticeboard owners keep 85 per cent of the revenue generated.

Here Matt McAlister explains the project’s development:

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Q&A with hyperlocal site boasting 15,000 newsletter subscribers

ChiswickW4.com, which claimed 50,000 unique visitors during January, has just gained it’s 15,000th email newsletter signup.

Launched by the Neighbour Net group in 2000 to cover the W4 postcode area of London, Neighbour Net now boasts a portfolio of nine other hyperlocal sites in London, including EalingToday.co.uk and PutneySW15.com.

One of Neighbour Net’s directors, Sean Kelly, spoke to Journalism.co.uk about the site’s model.

Who’s behind the operation of the website? What inspired you to set up a hyperlocal site?

The site was set up by Tony Steele and Sean Kelly who both live in the Chiswick area. The aim was to fill the gap in local news provision initially in Chiswick and then extend the concept out to other areas.

Are your articles written by local contributors or do you have a dedicated team?

We have a dedicated editor for each site and a significant number of other local contributors in each area. The contributions tend to be reviews – restaurants, concerts, theatre. There is also a central office resource for content production which can write stories when the editor is away.

Is anyone employed to work full-time on the site?

Yes, we have four full-time staff but that includes sales and back office. The aim on ChiswickW4.com is to be able to respond 24/7 to breaking news.

Your site has a number of subtle advertisements – could you tell us a little about your business model?

Nearly all our customers are small local businesses and they either have advertising packages which include banner display and newsletter inclusion or listings in our directories.

We also like to be supportive of local independent businesses and like to write positive stories about them. Obviously we are more inclined to cover items about our clients but often feature non-clients as well.

Do you have a social media strategy? If so, what social networks do you use and how do you use them?

We put all our news content out on Twitter and Facebook as well as some aggregated feeds with local offers, events, jobs and traffic reports. The main use for us of social media is sourcing stories rather than broadcasting. It is particularly powerful for breaking news.

We try and follow as many people as possible who live in the area to ensure that if something is kicking off locally we hear about it quickly.

Why did you go down the newsletter route, rather than taking a different approach?

Probably because in 2000 there weren’t really many alternatives but e-mail newsletters have proven to be the most effective broadcast method ever since.

On a proportional basis they still deliver the highest level of response both for advertisers and in terms of click through to news items.

How does your traffic for the Chiswick site compare with the rest of Neighbour Net’s sites?

It makes up around 50 per cent of group total over the course of a typical month. On exceptional days sites like PutneySW15.com and EalingToday.co.uk can exceed Chiswick’s traffic.

Do you have any plans to roll out new features on the sites?

The plan is to increase the amount of user contributed content further although the editor will remain central to the story production process.

Are you planning to expand? If so, where to?

We normally expand contiguously so that people in the area may be familiar with the site and we can cross-sell to existing clients as well as provide editorial support from neighbouring sites.

The most important determinant of where we launch is finding a suitably high quality editor. The plan is to recruit more actively once the content management system is up and running.

ChiswickW4.com can be found on Twitter as @ChiswickW4.

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Students relaunch the Cardiffian to fill gap left by Guardian Cardiff closure

Trainee newspaper journalists from Cardiff School of Journalism have relaunched the Cardiffian, a hyperlocal.

One of those involved, Tom Rouse, explains how it is run.

The news site is staffed by trainee newspaper journalists at Cardiff School of Journalism. With 29 reporters, each assigned their own patch, we are able to cover a large part of Cardiff at a ward level and cover a depth and breadth of stories which engage with communities on their own level.

The site was originally set up for last year’s students, so our focus this year has been reviving a site which has lain dormant since April and rebuilding ties with local community groups.  This background means we have not had to build a readership from scratch, but has presented a different challenge in ensuring we offer something different from what is already out there.

Fundamentally, the Cardiffian is a news site and a chance for us to put our work in a real world setting.  The majority of our second term is dominated by our first efforts as journalists in sourcing stories and producing a paper. As this paper is produced as a training exercise it allows us to make mistakes in a safe environment. Putting our work up on the Cardiffian builds upon this by giving us an invaluable opportunity to gain feedback from readers about the stories we’re writing and understand what works when presented to an audience and what doesn’t.

But, we are hoping to make the site far more than just another source of news in Cardiff. We want to fill the niche in the local online community which was left vacant by the demise of Guardian Cardiff and act as a hub for a variety of content, not just our own.

This means a large part of our strategy revolves around making ourselves useful to communities and encouraging them to engage with the site, whether that means submitting their events to our listings page or writing a guest blog on an issue they feel passionately about. We are hoping to build a genuine two-way relationship with our readers,

Glyn Mottershead, lecturer in digital journalism at Cardiff University, said:

The key point of the site is to help our students learn about the ways in which the industry is changing, to understand content and community strategies and build a living portfolio of work.

It is also an opportunity for them to engage with groups in Cardiff and try and help them get their message out.

The first year was very much a news site, which worked well in its run and received good feedback. This year is more about involving members of the community in the site and trying to understand and support an online community that is interested in what is happening in the city around them.

The site is also a bit more of a lab than other parts of the course and gives the students the opportunity to explore ideas that may be of interest to the community and suggest changes to platforms and strategies based on genuine feedback from them.

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Guardian’s n0tice launches advertising platform

December 12th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Hyperlocal, Local media

New online noticeboard, n0tice, which is owned by the Guardian Media Group, today announced the launch of an advertising platform which will enable noticeboard owners to earn revenue.

According to a post on the site, which also enables community groups, individuals, hyperlocals and bloggers to post announcements, event information and local news, noticeboard “owners” can now “earn revenue by selling featured positions for classified listings or ‘offers’.”

Outlining the model n0tice says owners will take an 85 per cent revenue cut, while the platform gets the remaining 15 per cent.

Posting an offer on a noticeboard is self-serve and free for n0tice participants. Offers can then be upgraded to a Featured placement for £1/day (or the equivalent base-level regional currency). Featured positioning includes both a visual enhancement and priority ranking on the page.

Alongside the new revenue platform, n0tice also announced the addition of other new features in today’s post, including geoRSS and the ability for each user to have a number of noticeboards.

Read more on n0tice here.

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