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Media release: Extra Newspapers launches new hyperlocal titles

April 4th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Local media, Newspapers

Image copyright Extra Newspapers

Extra Newspapers have launched the first in a string of new hyperlocal publications today designed to bring community news back to the fore.

The Kettering Extra and The Corby Extra hit news stands this morning with a cover price of 50p and a Wellingborough edition is set to follow on 18 April.

After some 14 months development, Extra Newspapers, which has offices in the Midlands, South East and Lancashire, put out a release last week detailing today’s launch:

Each paper, which is fortnightly, is designed to appeal to the traditional newsprint reader as well as the younger, digital savvy readership. Each one will be wholly dedicated to hyperlocal news – with companies and communities invited to contribute their news, views and event details to their local Extra paper.

The newspapers will have a start-up circulation of 10,500 and a cover price of just 50 pence, bringing readers everything from football results and birth announcements to school news, council facts, events, news and local views.

Stuart Parker, managing director, added:

Corby, a town of 55,000 people had until now no newspaper to call its own. The Corby Extra will give Corby what it wants most of all and that’s a voice across the community.

We intend to truly support local business and with the gradual shift in recent years to high advertising rates, the regional press has made it almost impossible for small businesses to communicate effectively with their target audiences. Extra will also be providing value for money advertising rates, so that businesses can quite simply afford to advertise and communicate.

 

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Guardian launches Streetstories, an app for King’s Cross

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

The Guardian has launched Streetstories, an iPhone and Android app, providing audio stories based on the phone’s location.

The app is another Guardian project focusing on social, local mobile and is launched the day after the public release of n0tice, another move by the news organisation into the SoLoMo space.

Launched ahead of the Guardian’s Open Weekend event this weekend, the Streetstories app provides a guide to King’s Cross,the area of London where King’s Place, the Guardian building where the event will take place, is located.

Francesca Panetta, the app’s creator, has blogged about it.

Streetstories is a free app for iPhone and Android which triggers audio relevant to your location - your smartphone knows where you are, and plays the stories automatically. The way the app works is you plug in your headphones, start up the ‘autoplay’ mode and put your smartphone in your pocket. The app will find where you are and start playing the clips, so you don’t need to press any buttons, just wander anywhere in the area and your route will create your own narrative

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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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Essex hyperlocal website teams up with Archant to launch magazine

A hyperlocal website in Essex has teamed up with regional newspaper publisher Archant to launch a print edition.

EverythingEppingForest.co.uk, which was founded in 2008 by local journalist David Jackman, will bring out the glossy monthly magazine from next month.

Printed by Archant, it will be delivered to 10,000 homes in the area and will include local community news and information, events and advertising.

In a statement published on the Everything Epping Forest website (not directly linkable – scroll down), Archant London commercial director Tony Little said: “We are delighted to have set up this partnership with David who is a much-respected local journalist, with important contacts in the local area.

“His success with Everything Epping Forest should be applauded and we are delighted to get involved with such a successful community-focused initiative.”

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New Guardian community platform n0tice invites more users

October 26th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Citizen journalism, Hyperlocal


n0tice, the Guardian’s latest community project, has today opened to more users.

The platform is an online version of a village noticeboard, allowing people to post and find community news and classified ads. It is location-based, enabling searches and delivering news related to any location worldwide.

Guardian News & Media plans to make money out of the site, which was inspired by a hack day, by charging for featured ads and selling the white-labelled technology to companies wanting to use n0tice for commercial purposes.

The platform has a read API, a self-serve white label version and feed importing meaning that it can be adapted for hyperlocals and “could potentially work just as well for hyperlocal community bloggers in northern England as it could for cricket fans in India or birdwatching groups in Oregon”, Sarah Hartley, community strategist at GMG and one of a team of three working on the project told Journalism.co.uk.

Matt McAlister, director of digital strategy at the Guardian, has announced the latest developments in a blog post:

The release today is a big one for us. We’ve added the ability to create your own n0ticeboard.

He goes on to say:

If we can make citizen journalism possible in more contexts for more communities then I think we will have done a good thing. If we can also make citizen journalism a financially sustainable activity then we will have done a great thing.

As we go along we are increasingly unsure of what happens next. Participants are starting to determine what we do more and more. So, if you want this platform to do something, please get in early and share your thoughts with us.

The platform is in still private beta so invite-only, but Journalism.co.uk has 10 invites. You can try to claim a n0tice invite by clicking here.

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‘It’s gone viral’: How a student’s riot liveblog brought a million views in a day

When the riots broke out in London and beyond last weekend, the press worked hard to keep up with the latest accounts and rumours circulating. And it was not just the national press and local papers bidding to bring audiences the latest from the heart of the action, the riots also proved an extraordinary experience for student journalists keen to flex their online reporting muscles.

On the fourth night of riots in the city and beyond, Journalism.co.uk caught up with MA journalism student at Brunel University Gaz Corfield, editor of hyperlocal site the West Londoner. Corfield and his team of contributors produced a live-blog of the events on the WordPress blog which, according to Corfield, enjoyed a tremendous 1 million views in just 24 hours (see graph below).


Below Corfield explains how the team approached coverage of the events, why he thinks the live blogging formula worked so well, and how him and his team of contributors helped verify and check reports.

Why a live-blog?

From the feedback we’ve had it seems that speed and accuracy of coverage is what makes the liveblog format popular. Full length news stories are great for catching up on events when you’re having a leisurely read about them the day afterwards. However, when the situation is fluid and still developing, readers want immediate updates. It takes time even to write up a NIB and you may not have enough information to pad out a story. Devoting a separate page on your website to four and a half lines with a break in the middle isn’t very informative. Some of our readers were interested in the earlier reports and with the liveblog format those are easily accessible just by scrolling down the page.

What challenges did you face while covering the riots, both in terms of safety and technological?

Our people on the ground have mainly been friends and volunteers who got in touch and offered their services. The vast majority of what we’re doing is curating reports from Twitter but having our own people on location has helped. One of our contributors, Sarah Henry, was in Hackey on Tuesday and was briefly caught up the violence there but got away unscathed – she tells me that the BBC reporter next to her was hit by a bottle.

Twitter, Twitpic and Yfrog have all been essential to our services and I really cannot recommend TweetDeck enough; the ability to set up live-updating searches was a true godsend. The biggest challenge, though, has been keeping the updates going out onto the site. You can have all the people and apps in the world bringing you information but at the end of the day, someone’s got to type them up!

What made your coverage stand out from others?

Speed, accuracy and collation of information from the ground, sifting between rumours and facts. Debunking false rumours, where we felt confident enough to do so, also built up our readers’ trust quickly. We weren’t afraid to categorise our reports – if we had sketchy information about something, we’d tell our readers “this report is unconfirmed” and work as quickly as we could to either confirm or deny it.
We also made a conscious choice not to label the people we were reporting on, even though our sources mentioned vigilantes, ethnic groups and political groups. Given the already heightened situation I felt it would be irresponsible to put out sensitive information we couldn’t directly check ourselves, so we stuck to just reporting movements of people. I think our readers appreciated that; our coverage was seen as being purely factual without any speculation, and therefore more valuable than other sources. I refused to report rumours about intended targets, which I think reassured a lot of people.

Rapid and relevant updates are what seems to be driving the traffic – at the end of Tuesday night/Wednesday morning the traffic was dropping off as there simply wasn’t anything new to report on. We also had the huge advantage of being the first liveblog to have up-to-the-minute reports. At the beginning of the riots there were repeated rumours that there was a news blackout, and many people were expressing frustration at their usual go-to news outlets being behind the curve.

How were you verifying breaking news/images/video etc?

We put a lot of trust in images. Provided they were tweeted alongside a location-specific hashtag we took them seriously – although this did go slightly awry when someone produced fake pictures of the London Eye on fire! Videos more or less spoke for themselves – either you can recognise local landmarks, or you can’t. Google Street View was useful for verifying images and videos in less frantic moments.
Sorting through tweets was harder – although we had our trusted sources out on the ground at the beginning, as the night progressed we had to read through public Tweets and decide what was real and what was just rumour. If we had a lot of similar (but not identical) reports of activity in a given area, we tended to treat that as reliable. However, that did get confusing towards the small hours of Wednesday morning because our own information was immediately being picked up and distributed by Twitter users in the areas we were trying to learn more about. Our biggest challenge was filtering out retweets because they clogged our information flow.

How did you use social media to further your reporting?

We used Twitter and Facebook. One person dedicated to running each, plus myself on the liveblog. It did get quite tricky deconflicting information going out from both sources. When I first built the site I set our Facebook page’s updates to autopost on Twitter, which later made us wonder where some of our own tweets were coming from! Close co-ordination kept the feeds unique and interesting, though.
We established a conversation with our readers on Facebook, using our page there to respond to queries about riots in peoples’ local areas. Our Twitter feed was pushing out shortened versions of the liveblog updates, with regular links to the liveblog page. In quieter periods we also published our Twitter username and asked for tip-offs to be directed at that, which worked well. Surprisingly, we also received a large volume of tip-offs through the email contact form on our website; you don’t really think of email as being a form of social media but clearly it has its place.

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#su2011: Forget hyperlocal, the future’s ‘hyperpersonal’

June 28th, 2011 | 4 Comments | Posted by in Events, Hyperlocal

A new era of online publishing where readers are served ‘hyperpersonal’ news directly linked to their interests is taking shape, according to a consultant for world publishing body WAN-IFRA.

Stephan Minard told the organisation’s summer university in Paris, that personalisation would be the key element that will make modern news websites successful in the coming years.

Publishers needed to learn more about their readers, build up data on them and then serve an experience that is unique to them. Algorithms, not editors, were the new gatekeepers, he said.

Minard said news organisations could learn a lot from the world of marketing and e-commerce: “Personalisation is not science-fiction. It’s everywhere on the web – Google, Facebook, Amazon.”

Combining subscriber data, behavioural research and other data on a reader’s interests and habits, sites should be able to build a reliable picture of a user and serve content that is personalised to them.

Minard gave the example of the Washington Post, which launched personalised social news site Trove in April, which relies on a user’s Facebook interests to define their profile.

However, he issued a warning about offering content that was too personalised. There was a risk of isolating users in a “web of one” by only serving them material about a very tightly defined subject and cutting them off from the wider world.

Related content:

#su2011: iPad creates new demand for evening news

#su11: Swedish newspaper has massive hit with online open newsroom

City University research shows rapid grown of personalised news services

#mobilemedia11: Over 55s with iPads are sweet spot for the Telegraph

 

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‘Having blog in our name was causing problems’: Lichfield Blog renamed

Hyperlocal news and community site the Lichfield Blog has been renamed Lichfield Live.

Writing on the Lichfield Community Media blog today, director Philip John says that he had previously blocked the name change, concerned that it was “too risky, potentially losing the reputation we had built up”.

But it became “hard to escape the fact that having ‘blog’ in our name was causing problems with how we were perceived”, he says.

Philip explains some of the other reasons behind the name change:

“Lichfield Live” is more suitable for several reasons;

  • It sounds new. We’re very much a “new media” operation.
  • It sounds timely. We’ve built a reputation for being first to have the news about what’s going on in Lichfield.
  • It fits with what’s on. Our most popular section is “What’s On” and nicely ties into events.

The Lichfield Blog isn’t dead though, it’ll carry on as a place for comment and opinion pieces from columnists “who live in, work in or represent Lichfield”. A new site is also due, which will cover the Burntwood & Chasetown region.

See the new Lichfield Live site at this link.

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Jeff Jarvis: ‘Journalism has a model built on entitlement and emotion, not economics’

Jeff Jarvis keeping an eye on City professor George Brock. Image: Wannabe Hacks

Journalism is labouring under a business model based on entitlement and emotion, not economic reality, said leading media commentator Jeff Jarvis today at City Unversity’s Sustaining Local Journalism conference.

We need to understand the business model. I’m tired of the argument that journalists ‘should’ be paid, what successful business model was ever built on the word ‘should’?

Virtue is not a business model, just because we are doing good things that doesn’t mean we should be paid.

He said it was a model in need of disruption.

Some of my colleagues don’t like it when I use that term, disrupt. But welcome to the jungle.

We are a business that has to add value to the community in order to extract value back.

Jarvis set out three ways he thought that hyperlocal sites could make money in a difficult market space:

Developing new products and services to sell
Events (he cited US blogs running flea markets and buying club events)
The creation of sales networks

He only elaborated properly on the last of these, saying that individual bloggers are usually too small to interest city-wide advertisers but grouping together in a network can make them much more of a force to be reckoned with. “When it comes to journalism, he said, “we are better off doing things together”.

Philip John, director of the Lichfield Blog, blogged in March about the need for hyperlocal sites to build networks, writing that they bring about “a sort of collective consciousness whereby an improvement to one site is an improvement to all”.

With the likes of Addiply founder Rick Waghorn and Talk about Local’s Will Perrin acknowledging earlier in the day that just turning a profit as a local or hyperlocal blogger in the UK was rare, it was surprising to hear Jarvis talking about local blogs in US cities of 50,000–60,000 turning over $200,000 a year.

Jarvis admitted that is was a hard slog for hyperlocal sites to bring in ad money, but argued that there was a return in building networks. Giving AOL’s huge hyperlocal network Patch as an example, he said Patch was hiring a journalist for each of it 150 sites and paying them $40,000 a year. AOL wouldn’t be doing that if it didn’t think there was ad money there.

Asked whether journalists should be concerned about conflating journalism and sales – a recurring theme of the conference – Jarvis cited the example of Rafat Ali, founder of paidContent, who he said “had to go out and sell the ads at first, but retained his own moral compass”.

“It is probably our job as educators to guide students in these things”, he said, adding that in the end it is all down to credibility, which can be maintained even if a journalist is pitching in with the business side of things. Maintaining credibility is vital, he warned.

“If you lose credibility you lose your value.”

Also from today’s #citylocal conference: Hyperlocal ad sales and ‘the age of participation’

You can see a Chirpstory of some of the best tweets of the day at this link.

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#citylocal: Hyperlocal ad sales and the ‘age of participation’

Community participation is key to selling ads around local and hyperlocal content, Rick Waghorn told the audience at today’s Sustaining Local Journalism conference.

Waghorn, who founded local ad sales platform Addiply, cited the example of Howard Owens, publisher of New York hyperlocal site the Batavian.

Owens, he said, was a “hyperlocal superman” for turning a profit from ads on his site. The reason for Owens’ success? P2P. That’s “person-to-person”. Waghorn praised Owen for participating in the community that he covers, knowing the people, and knocking on doors to get ads.

It’s P2P that will make hyperlocal ad sales profitable, said Waghorn, not algorithms.

Borrowing a term from Emily Bell, he said that we are in “the age of participation”.

Editorial is participative and local, why shouldn’t advertising be?

But Owens’ is a rare case, said Waghorn, stressing that hyperlocal publishers in the UK need to get more comfortable with participating in the community for ad sales.

We can’t all be Howard Owens. You look around the hyperlocal scene in the UK and the art of selling is lost on most people. Is is a different, different trade craft to finding a story.

It strikes me as odd that most people would be more comfortable doing a death knock than going into a local pizza parlour and asking for a 10 quid ad. Why? That seems odd to me. I know what I’d rather do.

Waghorn’s said his own ad platform, Addiply, could help publishers reach out to their communities to make ad sales.

It’s a bottom-up ad solution that, in our tiny, tiny way goes into battle with the adsenses and all the big betworks.

And bottom up solutions are what works, he said, “the world is turning upside down”. Citing Howard Owens again, Waghorn claimed that the door-to-door salesman is the missing link for hyperlocal ad sales. He contrased Owens’ approach with that of the big hyperlocal networks like AOL’s Patch.

I’m not Patch, descending down to you from on high, I am the one knocking on your door. Knocking on your door seven or eight times before you give me an ad.

Waghorn’s message? Journalists will knock on doors to ask about deaths, and will knock on doors looking for stories, and if they want to make hyperlocal pay they will have to start thinking about ad sales the same way.

That message was echoed by Will Perrin of Talk About Local, who called the Guardian’s sales approach to advertising on its recently-closed Guardian local sites “very odd”.

If you want to sell ads around local content you have to have a team there on the ground.

Tweets tagged with the #citylocal hashtag can be seen in this Chirpstory.

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