Browse > Home /

Treasury reaches out to hyperlocal sites for Budget coverage

For today’s Budget, HM Treasury is making an effort to talk directly to local news bloggers about potential coverage.

As VentnorBlog, based in the Isle of Wight, reports:

…Rather than just rely on ‘traditional’ media, they [HM Treasury] want to innovate and extend their reach to distribute the information as widely as possible. They want VentnorBlog to help Island readers understand the details as soon as it’s been announced.

Information will be available on the Treasury’s website after the Chancellor’s announcements, but the department will also issue some bloggers with regional press notices and resources at the same time it goes to the news wires.

The Treasury asked hyperlocal publisher and trainer Will Perrin to put them in touch with some leading local blogs. Perrin told Journalism.co.uk that the Treasury’s interest is a “good thing” that will “no doubt be experimental for both parties”. “It’s a real challenge for a national institution to localise their message, but you have to start somewhere.”

Tags: , , , ,

Similar posts:

Signals intelligence journalism: using public information websites to source stories

Useful information is more widely and easily available than ever and the increasing amount of online data released by the government and others can help improve the originality of journalists’ work.

Look to VentnorBlog – the hyperlocal online effort based in the Isle of Wight which Journalism.co.uk commended during the Vestas protest coverage – for some inspiration.

[For those unfamiliar with the story, locals had been protesting against the closure of the wind turbine factory in front of national, local and hyperlocal media. Despite a long and well-publicised campaign in August 2009, Danish company Vestas has now pulled out of manufacturing on the Isle of Wight but protests and attacks by critics in the press continue. A national day of action to support redundant Vestas workers has been planned for Thursday, September 17.]

Last week, using the Area Ship Traffic Website, AIS, VB was able to report where two barges held by an agent – NEG  Micron Rotors – who used to own the Vestas’ factory were due to head. They would be used to move the blades from the factory, which are so huge that they can only travel away on the water on special vessels.

The correspondent who tipped off VentnorBlog knew that the wind turbine blades can only be transferred from the riverside to barge when it is high tide and across a public footpath so, using the information on the AIS site, concluded that the barges would be moved in a specific time slot.

As a result Vestas protesters asked supporters to join them at the Marine Gate on the River Medina. Of course VentnorBlog got down there to take some pictures.

Now let’s take that one step further: how can journalists tap into this kind of publicly available data to scoop stories?

Tony Hirst, Open University academic, Isle of Wight resident and prolific data masher, shared some thoughts with Journalism.co.uk. He said that we should look to signals intelligence for further inspiration: the interception and analysis of ‘signals’ emitted by whoever you are surveying. As military historians would be the first to tell you, they can be a very rich source of intelligence about others’ actions and intentions, he explained.

“A major component of SIGINT is COMINT, or Communications Intelligence, which focuses on the communications between parties of interest. Even if communications are encrypted, Traffic Analysis, or the study of who’s talking to whom, how frequently, at what time of day, or  – historically – in advance of what sort of action, can be used to learn about the intentions of others.”

And this is relevant to journalists, he added:

“For starters, data is information, or raw intelligence. The job of the analyst, or the data journalist, is to identify signals in that information in order to identify something of meaning – ‘intelligence’ about intentions, or ‘evidence’ for a particular storyline.

The VentnorBlog story, he said, describes how a ‘sharp-eyed follower of movements at the plant’ knew where two barges were headed and at what time – valuable journalistic information:

“Amid the mess of Solent shipping information was a meaningful signal relating to the Vestas story – the movement of the barge that takes wind turbine blades from the Vestas factory on the Isle of Wight to the mainland.”

Do you have suggestions for sources of ‘signals intelligence’ journalism? Or examples of where it has been done well?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

VentnorBlog shows us high-quality hyperlocal reporting with the Vestas story

Remembering a little comparative exercise that Tony Hirst undertook on the OUseful.info blog during the MPs’ expenses revelations, Journalism.co.uk thought it might be illuminating to re-visit Isle of Wight news production on the day of the Vestas case. How did hyperlocal site, the VentnorBlog – not just about the town of Ventnor – treat the Vestas story in comparison to the Isle of Wight County Press Online (in print, it’s weekly) and the national press?

Today’s court adjournment that saw the Danish owners of wind turbine company, Vestas, unable to force workers out of Isle of Wight factory. For the past nine days, about 20 workers have occupied the Vestas Wind Systems plant near Newport, which is due to close on Friday (around 625 workers are set to lose their jobs) but a possession order made at Newport county court today has been delayed until next week, as the company had not properly served papers on the individuals in the building, and the hearing took place prematurely [sources: the Guardian / VentnorBlog].

1. The Guardian

News report and video at this link. Blog post on ‘Vestival’. Other news content from earlier in the day and the week gathered at this link.

2. The Isle of Wight County Press.

A story reporting that ‘Judge denies Vestas eviction order’. The other news link takes us to other related stories, the last of which was printed Tuesday.

3. The VentnorBlog:

Rolling news, updated throughout the day. Eleven updates, lending themselves well to re-tweets (like Journalism.co.uk, the blog uses the TweetMeme button on its posts), posted since this morning including:

  • Video news content. Eg. this segment, with the announcement outside court:

Vestas sit-in: Case Postponement Announced To The Crowd from Ventnor Blog on Vimeo.

Previous coverage of the Vestas story on the VentnorBlog can be found at this link. NB: the VentnorBlog published its Vestival story yesterday lunchtime.

A comment left by ‘Eco T’ on the VentnorBlog is just one of the positive reactions to VB’s coverage:

“I would like to say that Ventnor Blogs coverage has been second to none. The most detailed and accurate report of any news service. I would like to thank ever one at Ventnor blog and hope you keep up the great work.”

The coverage is bitty (as you might expect as a story unfolds) and not necessarily completely balanced (most updates focus on the workers’ perspective), but the VentnorBlog has done an excellent job of providing the islanders (and outsiders) with raw and useful material, showing us how high-quality hyperlocal reporting is done.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

© Mousetrap Media Ltd. Theme: modified version of Statement