#FLcommunityjourno 5

Updates: Jennifer Jones skewers hyperlocalsThe future’s bright, says the Carnegie Trust

Astonishingly, this is the last week. As I’ve got two more MOOCs which have just started to try out that’s quite a relief. I have picked up a couple of snippets, but very light, not really higher education level, more a taster. Also, can’t quite make its mind up if it’s about community journalism more broadly, including communities of interest, or (insert Welsh accent) hyperlocals. Or, indeed, blogging, particularly when a site goes beyond news.

Week 5 explored defining success and ensuring sustainability, plus a peek at legal and ethical issues. Hangout tonight – I’ll update this post if anything substantial emerges.

Theory: how do we measure success? 

It can be difficult to decide what determines whether a hyperlocal service is being successful or not – success can mean many things besides the obvious measures. Ten different ways to judge what is ‘success’:

  • traffic
  • coverage gaps, depth of content
  • holding local authority to account
  • unique access to local people/voices (different voices) – cultural archive etc, eg Spitalfields Life, which feels like a ‘blog’ to me
  • local campaigns
  • new career and spinoffs
  • creating a sense of community
  • promoting civic engagement – FixMyStreet plugin (Giv et praj in DK; do you get a response in the UK? My praj re a red light which never turned green vanished into the ether)
  • partnerships
  • historic value

Practice: sustainability and clarifying your goals

Making a hyperlocal site sustainable in the long term can be hard work. There is no one solution that works – it depends on your community, the local economy and what you are trying to achieve:

  • making it pay – but are you doing it for the money?
  • there is no one size fits all solution – multiple income streams needed, spreads risk
  • income sources – print versions/publications, ebooks; on/offline advertising; other services eg #some, copywriting, web hosting/tech support; Groupon/local deals
  • trusts and foundations – Nesta, Nominet, Carnegie Trust
  • local councils – may impact on your editorial integrity
  • not just about money – keeping up the momentum, recruit others to help,
  • business model may help – forums are easier to keep ticking over, but not great for news
  • have an exit strategy

Thinking about sustainability and business models, what do you want to get out of your community journalism project? Do you want to campaign about a single issue for a short time? Provide a long term community news service in your local area?

Essentials: law and ethics

When you are publishing information in public there are some key legal issues to bear in mind – for example, how to avoid libel, contempt of court or breaking copyright laws.

Key points of UK media law:

  • defamation – “serious harm”
  • court reporting – any restrictions in place? mandatory or discretionary
  • contempt of court – breaching a court order, reporting prior to a trial
  • council meetings – free expression, but recording is an issue
  • copyright – an ongoing problem; if you can download something there is an implied sense that it’s OK, but acknowledge source (errm…)
  • privacy – public interest trumps privacy; no restrictions in public places (apart from children)
  • human rights – freedom of expression (Art 10 of Act), can outrage people as long as don’t start a riot
  • best practice and fair dealing – Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice (16 clauses)
  • case study – Carmarthenshire Planning Problems and more (New Law JournalLocal Government LawyerInforrm’s Blog)


  1. Why does Damian Radcliffe recommend banding together with other hyperlocals? – to attract advertisers
  2. Which two of these options does Damian Radcliffe recommend as potential sources of sustainable income? – property supplement, web hosting and tech support
  3. What is the annual budget of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, according to Jan Schaffer?- errrm…it’s $10 million
  4. What are the two best business model options if you are an individual? – sole trader, limited company
  5. What are the two types of restrictions on court reporting? – mandatory and discretionary

Assess your learning

  1. How might hyperlocal or community news succeed where local news has started to fail? – by making a more meaningful partnership between communities and journalists
  2. What are two types of community radio stations described by Arne Hintz? – urban, pirate radio and local, community radio in rural areas
  3. What is still the most popular medium for accessing local news? – TV, but Internet catching up
  4. Which role is it absolutely vital to have in a community news service, even if there is only one of you? – contributor (duh…)
  5. What are two of the biggest changes brought about by digital transformation, according to Alan Edmunds, Editor-in-chief at Media Wales?  – the ability to break news and the opportunity to engage in two way conversations
  6. With the rise of media meshing and stacking (using more than one device or medium at a time), what is there now acute competition for? – people’s time (ie not loyalty)
  7. Which two of these types of news content work well on a small mobile screen? – catchy headlines, pics and video
  8. How can you best characterise the social media audience? – fragmented communities interested in lots of different things (so find your interested community and engage with them to build their trust)
  9. What measures of success does David Williams apply to MyTown Media? – readership
  10. What should you always try to do if you take a photograph of children, at a school carnival for example? – ask their parents or guardians’ permission



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