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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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Are you on the j-list? The leading innovators in journalism and media in 2010

July 22nd, 2010 | 14 Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Online Journalism

Updated 05/08/2010

Recent industry lists ranking the great and good in journalism and the media fell a bit short of the mark for Journalism.co.uk. Where were the online innovators? Where were the journalists on the ground outside of the executives’ offices?

So we’ve compiled our own rundown listing those people we think are helping to build the future of journalism and the news media.

Some important points to note:

  • There are no rankings to this list – those included are from such varied areas of work it seemed pointless;
  • We will have missed some people out – let us know in the comments below or with the hashtag #jlist who you are working with that should be included;
  • We’ve listed groups as well as individuals – with individuals we hope you’ll see them as representing a wider team of people, who have worked together on something great;
  • And it’s not limited to 50 or 100 – we’ll see where it takes us…

So here’s the first batch. There’s a Twitter list of those included so far at this link and more will be added in the coming weeks.

Click on the ‘more’ link after these five to to see the full list.

Tomáš Bella

Tomáš Bella was editor-in-chief and deputy director of Sme.sk, the Slovak republic’s most popular news site. He was author of the first European newspaper-owned blogportal (blog.sme.sk, 2004) and the first digg-like service (vybrali.sme.sk, 2006). In April 2010 he co-founded Prague-based new media consultancy NextBig.cz and is working on a payment system to allow the access to all the premium content of major newspapers and TV stations with one payment.

Paul Steiger

While ProPublica’s not-for-profit, foundation-funded model may be something commercial news organisations can never share, its investment in and triumphing of investigative and data journalism cannot be overlooked. The way in which it involves a network of readers in its research and actively encourages other sites to “steal” its stories shows a new way of thinking about journalism’s watchdog role. Image courtesy of the Knight Foundation on Flickr.

Chris Taggart

Paul Bradshaw’s description of his fellow j-lister: “Chris has been working so hard on open data in 2010 I expect steam to pour from the soles of his shoes every time I see him. His ambition to free up local government data is laudable and, until recently, unfashionable. And he deserves all the support and recognition he gets.”

Ian Hislop/Private Eye

Not much to look at on the web perhaps, but the Eye’s successful mixture of satire, humour and heavyweight investigations has seen its circulation rise. It blaized a trail during the Carter-Ruck and Trafigura gagging ordeal and has even lent it’s support to j-list fellow the Hackney Citizen to protect press freedom from international to hyperlocal levels. Image courtesy of Nikki Montefiore on Flickr.

Brian Boyer

Amidst the talk of what journalists can learn from programmers and what coding skills, if any, journalists need, Brian Boyer was making the move the other way from programming to a programmer-journalist. His university and personal projects in this field have been innovative and have got him noticed by many a news organisation – not least the Chicago Tribune, where he now works as a news applications editor. He blogs at Hacker Journalist.

Ushahidi

Originally built to map reports from citizens of post-election violence in Kenya, Ushahidi’s development of interactive, collaborative and open source mapping technology has been adopted by aid agencies and news organisations alike. It’s a new means of storytelling and a project that’s likely to develop more tools for journalists in the future.

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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.”

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Hyperlocal wars: commenters defend online local news sites

As my colleague Laura mentioned in a news article earlier today, a blog post on the Manchester Evening News’ website by chief reporter David Ottewell, written in defence of the Salford Star, raises concerns about new hyperlocal sites. An extract:

There is a lot of talk these days about ‘hyperlocal’ sites. The idea is that journalists working in a small community can cover stories that might get lost at, say, a regional or local level.

Too often, though, these sites disappoint. They end up simply regurgitating press releases, or ripping off stories from local newspapers, because they are one-man bands run by amateurs who don’t have the time, resources, or sometimes skills to dig out the news.

As Ottewell probably could have anticipated, this has sparked off some lively and heated comment. Hyperlocal trainer and publisher Will Perrin answers with examples of his favourite local news sites. Philip John, the developer behind Journal Local and the Lichfield Blog, raises an important point about future collaboration with Trinity Mirror (something Trinity Mirror’s head of regional multimedia David Higgerson talked about at the recent Polis/BBC College of Journalism conference):

We are also now actively talking with Trinity Mirror publications about collaboration and I know we’re not the only ones. I mention it specifically because they’re your ‘sisters’ within the TM family now and you might want to ask why they are so openly embracing hyperlocal.

Nigel Barlow, the co-founder of the Manchester site InsidetheM60 also responds, inviting Ottewell to further discuss these issues:

The spirit of your blog is not really in the best interests of what David Higgerson has for some time been promoting as cooperation between the main stream media and the Independents.

You have to recognise that there are some endemic problems within the media industry which local and regional papers seem to be bearing the brunt of. Not all their fault I accept but stances like yours do not help. Attack is not always the best form of defence but I take heart from the fact that you notice us. If we weren’t on your radar then surely we would be of no concern to you.

Sarah Hartley, who formerly worked at the MEN and now edits Guardian Local, says:

…your (probably) link bait assertion about what hyperlocal sites do ‘too often’ shouldn’t be left unchallenged. There’s heaps of sites up and down the country doing the sort of scrutiny you should applaud and unearthing stories of genuine importance to their communities – and that’s the point ‘their communities’. Maybe those stories don’t appeal to your professionalised view of journalism? I know not. Rather than generalise about these sites, perhaps some credit where it’s due and then name names if you have examples where churnalism is going on rather than tarring everyone with the same brush.

It has generated commentary away from the MEN site too; Philip John has a link round-up here.

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#polcasm: Policing 2.0 – citizens and social media

Now this is an agenda worth looking at: the NPIA Citizen Focus and Neighbourhood Policing Programme is holding a conference in Coventry (the journalistic place to be in October Journalism.co.uk can vouch) today on ‘Policing 2.0: the citizen and social media’. The introductory document can be found at this link. Among the attendees are hyperlocal pioneers Will Perrin (@willperrin) and Nicky Getgood (@getgood).

Follow tweets here, and Journalism.co.uk will follow up on what was said later:

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NewsInnovation videos from @newsmatters: featuring @kevglobal, @currybet, @markng, @simonw, @willperrin

The Media Standards Trust has finished uploading content from its NewsInnovation event, held in association with NESTA and the WSRI, earlier this month to its YouTube channel.

[Previous Journalism.co.uk coverage at this link]

We’ll embed the first segment of each session, and for further installments follow the links below each video.

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

  • Kevin Anderson (@kevglobal) Guardian blogs editor talks about news business models.

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

  • Ben Campbell talks about the Media Standards Trust website, Journalisted.

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

  • Will Perrin (@willperrin) on digital possibilities for the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War.

Part 2.

  • Simon Willison (@simonw) of The Guardian talks about using the crowd to sift through MPs’ expenses.

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

  • Martin Belam (@currybet) information architect at the Guardian on ‘The tyranny of chronology’.

Part 2, Part 3.

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