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#Tip: Pointers on reporting local elections

Local elections in the UK are now less than a month away and the helpful folks over at Talk About Local have put together some tools and tips for reporting on the events in a hyperlocal context.

The tools are presented in a public Google doc while a blogpost from media law expert David Banks is also provided to warn against any potential legal pitfalls.

As the Google doc is open source, the Talk About Local team hope users will add their own suggestions to create an “open source toolkit for elections”, so feel free to contribute if you know of any more.

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at Journalism.co.uk email us using this link.

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Sarah Hartley to join Talk About Local as interim managing director

December 9th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Citizen journalism, Journalism

Sarah Hartley, a community strategist for the Guardian Media Group and part of the team behind its online noticeboard n0tice, is to join community media project Talk About Local as its interim managing director next year, according to an announcement on the site.

The post adds that she will continue to head “the community strategy for n0tice.com” but will also help with “exciting new initiatives in the pipeline” for Talk About Local, which was set up by William Perrin.

In a quote Hartley said:

I am delighted to be starting 2012 tackling some new challenges working alongside the talented and dedicated team at TAL.

We have some exciting new initiatives in the pipeline, helping people find their online voice for communities, as well as continuing to be active in supporting and promoting the many blogs and websites we are already involved with.

Read more here.

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Talk About Local: Personal v professional, the hyperlocal balancing act

October 12th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Hyperlocal

Nicky Getgood, who runs hyperlocal site Digbeth is Good, discusses the balancing act between personal passion behind a site and readers’ expectations of a professional service:

[W]hen a person creates a community resource through a personal passion, which then becomes something many people rely upon and have expectations of but is still down to one person to sustain voluntarily. What happens if that person finds they can no longer maintain the website?

Discussions about this at the recent HyperLocal GovCamp West Midlands raised the idea for hyperlocal sites to charge local businesses who want notices or listings put up more quickly or to a deadline – part of a premium model for hyperlocal websites?

Full post on Talk About Local at this link…

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Digital Strategy: Why Camden council is moving into hyperlocal websites

June 3rd, 2010 | 4 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Local media

Thoughtful piece explaining why Camden Council, with the help of community media and communications project Talk About Local, is planning to launch some hyperlocal websites to give local residents “a voice online” and allow the council to encourage them to speak about issues in their communities, without necessarily controlling that conversation.

Talk About Local founder Will Perrin explains the work TAL is doing with Camden Council far more eloquently in this video. But it’s interesting to consider how such developments might affect the local media landscape, especially with many UK newspaper groups investing in ‘hyperlocal’ networks? Will there be resistance to such plans from local media, as has been the case with council-run newspapers; or is there a space for these websites alongside local news media, which as Perrin suggests will also cover civic issues and news?

Full post at this link…

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PDA: Talkaboutlocal’s hyperlocal ‘unconference’

October 5th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Journalism

Great post from Sarah Hartley rounding up the potential for hyperlocal online ventures to revive and supplement local news coverage with examples from delegates at Talk About Local’s first unconference

Full post at this link…

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Jon Bernstein on hyperlocal: Five steps to kick-start the local news revolution

July 1st, 2009 | 6 Comments | Posted by in Comment, Online Journalism

The strength of hyperlocal is also its weakness – disparate projects in far-flung places.

But here’s the thing. What works in KW1 – the business model, the editorial proposition – is likely to work just as well in TR19.*

So we have a choice. Wait for exemplars of the form to rise up, then copy and adapt, or give the whole process a hand by collating, sharing, talking and learning. Right now.

Let’s do the latter. Here’s a quick and dirty call to action:

1. Find out what’s out there
In the United States they are doing just that.

The City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism has invited ‘bloggers, independent journalists, website publishers and entrepreneurs’ to complete a survey so it can ‘gather information and innovative ideas from across the country’.

“We want to bring facts, figures, and business analysis to the debate over the future of journalism,” it states.

Where’s the equivalent effort over here?

I’m told that there are voices in Ofcom, the media regulator, who want to collate information about all of the little community newsletters and bigger sites which could now be called hyperlocal.

If that’s the case, it’s time to get moving. Oh, and we’ll have some of that US data when it’s ready, too.

2. Share ideas
Good practice, sound business models, strong feature strands and story hooks are not geographically-defined. So share, feed off each other, beg, borrow and steal.

Talk About Local is a good start. More, please.

3. Share resources
Can you apply the franchise model to the hyperlocal? For some the answer is a definite yes.

Again Talk About Local offers a possible lead with its plan to seed 150 sites in deprived areas nationwide.

Paul Bradshaw and Nick Booth’s Help me Investigate, is another service with franchise potential.

As is Mapumental.

This is a MySociety.org concoction and, like Help me Investigate, is a recipient of 4iP seed funding. Mapumental is postcode-based tool that brings together publicly available local house price and transport data and mashes it up with a ‘scenicness’ rating .

MySociety is also responsible for FixMyStreet. Both are centrally-built pieces of software with a hyperlocal application.

Integration is the key.

4. Share content
Like franchising, syndication is another old media model that has a home in the brave new world of hyperlocal.

And there is a commercial opportunity for those who create usable aggregation models.

Take Outside.in which has just launched a service in the United States it claims ‘will allow users to quickly create a mass amount of hyperlocal news pages’.

Outside.in is coming to the UK, but why isn’t a UK start-up doing this for the UK market? Perhaps one is. Time to make some noise.

5. Engage government
There’s a crisis in the public service provision of local news. If you want proof just look at the horse-trading between ITV and Ofcom. It’s a perfect opportunity for the government to think laterally.

Yet despite the warm words – and suitable use of new media lingua franca – in last month’s Digital Britain report, Lord Carter and co failed to put anything radical in train.

Carter’s defence is that this report was a sprawling undertaking and wasn’t designed to mandate government.

If so, someone needs to pick it up in Whitehall, but also in county halls up and down the country.

Rather than fund me-too freesheets that threaten to kill off local newspapers, local authorities would be better advised to help provide the infrastructure for hyperlocal.

It’s time to free your data for postcode-based applications, create a support system for local citizen journalists and use those soon-to-be-thriving platforms to promote the uptake of online public services.

Enough of the action plan. Go create.

(*That’s John O’Groats to Land’s End, postcode fans. Well, near enough.)

Jon Bernstein is former multimedia editor of Channel 4 News. This is part of a series of regular columns for Journalism.co.uk. You can read his personal blog at this link.

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