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The future of local media: 100% locally produced

At the end of last week Robert Niles wrote an interesting piece on local news beats on the Online Journalism Review. Whether working in print or online, he outlined five areas which he felt should form the core of any local publication.

In summary they are:

  • Food
  • Education
  • Labour
  • Business
  • Faith

He explains that for greater reader connection, beats must reflect the activities of the average reader’s daily life

The ‘dream’ publication I’m outlining here carries no wire services reports and no syndicated features, either. It’s 100 per cent locally produced and 100 per cent directed at the local community. So don’t think I’m writing about marginal change here. The structure I’m proposing would create a news publication that looks radically different than today’s typical newspaper.

I know that many publishers over the years have found it far more cost-effective to load up their papers and websites with wire copy and syndicated features than to hire local reporters. But with that content available at thousands of other URLs online, every dollar spent on wire or syndicated services is a dollar wasted. If you feel that you need to reference those reports for your readers, link them online or publish the URL in print. As so many others have said before, do what you do best and link to the rest. If you want better performance, you’re not going to get it by doing the same old thing, are you?

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Trust in journalists in steep decline, says YouGov research

September 23rd, 2010 | 7 Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Newspapers, Politics

Trust in journalists has plummeted over the past seven years, according to a survey conducted by YouGov for Prospect Magazine.

YouGov has been assessing people’s trust in various communicators, decision makers and service providers since 2003, and the forthcoming edition of Prospect compares the polling agency’s latest findings with its first.

Unsurprisingly, politicians have taken a hit since the Iraq war and trade union leaders won’t be going to the prom with the captain of the football team any time soon.

But there has also been an alarming fall in the ratings for journalists. In 2003, ITV journalists had a trust rating of a little over 80 per cent. That figure had fallen by 33 percentage points by August this year, putting BBC news journalists in the lead.

But the BBC might not be getting asked to babysit or look after anybody’s car: trust in its news journalists has dropped 21 points since 2003, down from 81 to 60 per cent.

And it’s a similar story elsewhere: “upmarket” newspapers (Times, Telegraph, Guardian) have suffered a 24 point knock down to 41 per cent in the latest figures; mid-markets (Mail, Express) are down from around 35 to 21 per cent; the red-tops from 14 to just 10 per cent.

By comparison, leading Labour politicians scored 23 per cent, leading Liberals 27 per cent and leading Tories, who were the only group on the survey to win an increase in trust, went from a meagre 20 per cent in 2003 to 29 per cent now.

YouGov’s surveys have consistently found more trust in local, rather than national professionals. GPs, teachers, police constables and local MPs are apparently deemed more trustworthy.

Unfortunately, the polls don’t include data for local journalists. Does the tendency to trust local professionals extend to the local hacks? Are there areas where people trust their hyperlocal start-up more than the age-old local rag?

Feel free to chime in with your own opinions in the comments thread or on Twitter with #trustinjournos. Even though most of you are journalists yourselves…

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Brownstoner: New York Times launches local pro-am blogs

News reaches us from blogger Brownstoner about the New York Times’ plans to launch a series of neighbourhood blogs – starting with two test sites for the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill areas.

Each site will be headed by a New York Times staffer as editor, but contributions from the public, in particular from CUNY’s journalism programme, will be solicited.

The Times has already teamed up with Everyblock to provide localised data for its political content – will any of Everyblock’s information be deployed on the new local blogs?

Journalism.co.uk is looking into the launch to find out more.

Full post at this link…

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MSNBC on hyperlocal plans for interactive coverage of US election voting results

October 29th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Multimedia

Msnbc.com has plans for interactive coverage of voting results on a hyperlocal level, Charlie Tillinghast, president and publisher told Beet TV in this interview.

  • Visitors to the site’s map will be able to click on states and counties to find results on national and local races.
  • Msnbc.com will stream live events, on air coverage by the network and NBC affiliates.
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Jeremy Dear responds to regional media/BBC Local row

October 27th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Online Journalism

Following coverage of last week’s comments by National Union of Journalists (NUJ) chief Jeremy Dear, about his bemusement with the regional press’ opposition to the BBC’s proposals to extend local video offerings online, the general secretary has responded, saying that there’s ‘room for everyone’ in the regional market.

“My point is that the local newspapers campaign is for their own vested interests – they don’t care about ensuring local people have a variety of sources of news, comment and entertainment. They want to be able to capture the market themselves. I fully support the newspapers’ expansion in to online media and I hope they capture a significant part of the audience – but it has to be done through quality content, with enough staff and resources to win ‘eyeballs’ not by stopping the licence fee payer being able to access BBC local services,” he writes in a blog post.

Dear adds that he has replied to a letter from Trinity Mirror’s director of corporate communications about his remarks, but is yet to receive a response:

“I simply asked him the question that if we believe in media plurality and we accept that commercial local TV and radio can exist alongside the BBC what is so different about online?”

Regional newspaper publishers have previously told Journalism.co.uk that ‘enough staff and resources to win “eyeballs”‘ would be a much easier prospect if a £68 million, five-year investment plan was available.

The final decision on the plans is fast approaching – it’s scheduled for February 25 2009 – and perhaps now is the time for the regional press to ask themselves what can be done if their opposition fails.

Is there potential for collaboration with the BBC online, and could this drive further innovation by regional titles online in response to the competition? Or will approval of the scheme lead to a reduction in online investment by the regional media?

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Liverpool Echo relaunches print edition

October 27th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Mobile, Newspapers

As of today the Liverpool Echo hits newsstands showcasing a new style. The Trinity Mirror regional title has undergone a major face-lift after consultations with its readership.

In a statement on the paper’s website, editor Ali Machray said the local paper needed to reflect the the city’s current vibe:

“There’s a buzz about Liverpool right now. And there’s a buzz about an Echo that will bring you everything that reflects the amazing resurgence of our city and its people.”

The new look publication will feature brand new education and health sections, a section for women and comprehensive local football content. It will also sport a new design featuring a new masthead and cleaner layout.

Following last week’s launch of The Birmingham Post’s ‘Post Mobile’ service, this week sees Trinity Mirror’s Newcastle Journal and Evening Chronicle follow suit with their own news services for mobile.

Plans are still on course for Trinity to have 13 of publications active on mobile by the end of the year.

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Lost Remote: NBC launches series of local news sites

October 14th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Editors' pick

US TV broadcaster NBC is to roll out a series of nine local news sites this month.

The sites will be ‘less an extension of our TV stations and more of an online destination for the latest local news, information and entertainment,’ says the broadcaster’s president.

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HTFP: Archant Suffolk journalists to pool content, write for online ‘editions’

October 14th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Journalists at Archant Suffolk titles the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Evening Star are to produce content for both papers’ print and online platforms.

The titles’ websites will also have three ‘editions’ a day, with content published online to coincide with peaks in audience traffic at breakfast, noon and ‘drive-time’.

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BBC: ITV may outsource regional news, says Grade

October 9th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Editors' pick

ITV chairman Michael Grade has said third parties could be paid to provide ITV with its regional news programmes.

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DEN: Should local newspapers run press release feeds?

October 8th, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Events, Newspapers, Online Journalism

At yesterday’s Digital Editors’ Network (DEN) event at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), UCLAN’s Johnston Press chair of digital journalism Jane Singer proposed a plan to free up the reporting time of local newspaper journalists:

Rather than re-writing certain press releases from local organisations and authorities, Singer said, newspaper websites could re-publish these releases untouched with their origins clearly marked.

This system should be in place in a designated section of the site clearly marked up as ‘press releases from Lancashire Police’ etc, and could even be a simple link to an organisation’s website or an automated RSS feed of releases.

Journalists at the paper would then have more time to follow-up on the facts behind the releases and put ‘news’ from organisations into context for readers, said Singer.

The idea was welcomed by some in the room, dismissed by others, who felt that republishing press releases could compromise editorial standards, even if the releases were clearly marked as not from the paper’s staff.

Yet others agreed that this could be a time-saving function of websites and help attract readers to the newspaper’s site as a first port of call for all local information.

So which titles are doing this already?

Wrexham’s Evening Leader has a list of links to local authority sites – providing the information on the site, but without the problem, raised by some editors, of running unedited releases from organisations.

The paper has a widget to receive RSS feeds from the North Wales Police website, which keeps it up to date with its latest press releases. Visitors to www.eveningleader.co.uk can follow a link from our navigation bar to find the page, Christian Dunn, the site’s editor, explained to us.

“It was one of our first experiments with embedding a widget on a section of our site. After listening to some of the ideas from the Digital Editors Networking event I’m going to make more of the section and talk to North Wales Police to see if there is any other material we could display for them,” he said.

“I don’t have a problem taking feeds from organisations such as the police and putting them on our site – as long as it’s clear the content is not written or produced by us.”

The Teesside Evening Gazette has its own take on Singer’s idea: its network of postcode-based hyperlocal websites link out to local community groups’ websites and local authority sites. They also link to BBC weather reports, which can be filtered by postcode too, rather than creating their own weather widgets or feeds.

Outside of the UK, the Knox News Sentinel provides feeds of political news and national news straight from the Associated Press and PR Newswire – and clearly labelled as such. While this isn’t specifically local info, it does take the onus off reporters at the Sentinel from having to repurpose this content.

This can’t be an exhaustive list of site’s putting Singer’s idea in to practice, so who else is doing this – in the UK or elsewhere? And does it work for you?

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