#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



#FLcommunityjourno 4

Week 4 looked at the growth of mobile, using social media to engage with key audiences and the increasing importance of images in a visually focused digital world.


Continuing the investigation of the changing pattern of the consumption of news, the theory section explored the rise of mobile and the impact it has had on the way we communicate, access and consume information, with implications for the format and presentation of content:

  • the increase in the number of people accessing the web through mobile devices is growing at a phenomenal rate
  • a third of 25–44 year olds say that mobile is their main source of online news (figs for smartphone penetration from Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2013, with DK topping at 61% for anything and 43% for news, UK on 50% and 29%)
  • use of tablets to access news doubled in just ten months as prices came down and they were offered more widely (DK: 25%, UK: 16%)
  • smartphones mean we are making fewer calls and using more data
  • mobiles are particularly used during commuting hours in the morning and evening
  • bite sized nuggets, catchy headlines, pictures and video are particularly suited for a mobile focused audience – have impact and are easily shared

Using #some to build an audience:

  • audience is fragmented into many communities, built around trust – ie if so and so liked something I may too
  • you have to become part of the community, work with them and share their content (hallo DR) – interaction is the key
  • send content to key influencers, ie those who talk the most about the issues (1% creators, 9% editors, 99% audience)
  • popularity is not the same as influence – it only takes 20 people to bring an online community to a significant level of activity and connectivity
  • to keep your audience give them a reason to stay engaged – listen to them, ask them what they want, give them what they want, engage them in ongoing conversations


Moderating an online community:

  • managing your community to ensure your site stays true to purpose and doesn’t get hijacked
  • behaviour is heightened but is the same as offline behaviour
  • treat in the same way, ie with respect – listen!, transparency, set out boundaries and publish guidelines
  • ie the teacher is in the room, but at the same time…
  • get involved and be an active member of the community

Essentials: working with images

Images are important in today’s increasingly visually focused digital world: 

  • draw more attention than text – 53% more likes, 104% more comments, 84% more clickthroughs
  • greater impact on small screen devices
  • source images via Flickr Advanced Search, Google Images Advanced Search, Wikimedia Commons
  • create images using eg PicMonkey
  • not dumbing down – hmm…rise of longform, anyone?


  1. Using the influencer pyramid, what percentage of people ‘lurk’ on social media without creating content? – 90%
  2. What are the two golden rules of moderating your community? – respect and transparency
  3. Two websites are mentioned as sources for free to share and distribute images – duh…
  4. What is a favicon? – the logo icon that appears in the tab of your browser or address bar
  5. Of the most engaging posts on Facebook, what percentage are image based? – 93%!


A Google hangout was held on 8 May. Started with 35 viewers, up to 75 at close, viewed 350 times (13 May).


  • community’ vs ‘citizen’ journalism – no hard and fast rules 
  • community journalism as a form of social media – ie not just broadcasting
  • equally as a form of community management – lines getting very blurred, who is it really about – the journalist or the community? where do bloggers fit in?

Running through #FLcommunityjourno for the past couple of weeks brings up:

#FLcommunityjourno 3

Week 3 is on building an engaged community, choosing a platform inc intro to WordPress and writing a good news story, all pretty thin. This has to be the lightest MOOC I have audited. It has also coincided with my being busy elsewhere, meaning that I am now two weeks behind, so weeks 3 and 4 will be rather skated over.


Changing approaches to public engagement – the communications model has shifted from deference to reference – no more transmission and passive acceptance of opinion and information. Share of voice has to be earned, not claimed, in a ‘noisy’ and competitive environment. Authenticity is the key to connecting with and engaging your community (come in, Visit Copenhagen).

Discussion: think about a local issue, or a service (for example health, education or council services) that is undergoing change. Are the decision makers inviting engagement? How could you help shape this?


Article on understanding the use of hyperlocal content through consumer search – ie how audiences use search engines to find hyperlocal content.

Four tools for analysing how your community is responding to your content:

Essentials: what makes a good story? 

Article on the art of writing news and some tips. See also the BBC Academy.

How to write a story:

  • the inverted pyramid
  • the five W’s: Who, What, Where, When, Why – and one H – the How!
  • write it in a way you would want to read – does it grab attention? Is it interesting? Is it fair? Is it too long? many people over write when they start
  • in most forms of journalism less is more – if you can cut a word out and it still makes sense – you probably should
  • think about building your story, incorporating quotes etc

No quiz – instead the opportunity to write and share a 300-500 word piece for peer review:

Write 300 – 500 words on a local or community-focused news story of your choice following the guidelines we’ve set out. Try to make sure that it engages the audience, follows the basic news principles that we’ve learned about and is easy to understand. You should aim to spend around 30 minutes on researching and writing your assignment.

Reviewers are asked to give feedback on the following aspects:

  1. Does the first line attract the audience? Explain why.
  2. Illustrate how the author deals with basic news principles ie who, what, why, when, where, how…
  3. Highlight examples of how the news story is written in a way that is simple and easy to understand. Alternatively, if you think it isn’t easy to understand, explain why.

#FLcommunityjourno 2

Week 2 done and dusted. FWIW while the content is pretty much fine, if not exactly testing the little grey cells, my reactions regarding the platform and the tone are the same as for before. Maybe it’s the FutureLearn ethos that irks me.

This week looked at the different ways people consume hyperlocal news, types of content, how to get organised and how to make the most of social media. 15 steps, the first of which is a 37 second video which has attracted 44 ‘comments’ so far. Is it me?


From Ofcom research:

  • 90% of people access local news on a regular basis, with TV the most popular source but 1/3 via the Internet
  • local classified advertising (motoring, jobs, property), one of the key ways local news makes money, has fallen victim to the Internet, via Google and other sources
  • can local media generate revenue via the Internet?
  • voluntary hyperlocal is important in making local news available
  • the citizenship element – bringing people together around specific issues and areas, sharing skills
  • delivering public purposes, impartial news and citizenship outcomes -> Creative Citizens project (blog, no RSS; article on the scale of hyperlocal publishing)
  • identifying success factors and sharing best practice

Networked Neighbourhoods’ typology plots the perceived level of civic purpose and breadth of contributors/level of interactivity; citizen led vs commercial, identifying eight types of hyperlocal (Welsh accent here) and corresponding types of content:


Equally relevant to other sorts of community, an aspect not touched on this week.

From Nesta research (summary | Destination Local):

  • what will work? different models, for technology and the business model
  • a local platform can be used for more than news – exchange or sharing economy, time banks,posting tasks, can keep people engaged
  • currently driven as much by the supply side (local media, councils, mobile companies) as demand – the landscape of provision vs the landscape of advertising
  • what shared community resources do we really need? can you combine functions, create co-ownership?

Discussion…I could paste the below into the 326 and counting long thread, but what is the point?

  • How do you access and consume local news? From a multitude of local papers stuffed into the letterbox. These explode in size during the spring as house buying season starts, but then wane in the summer as any form of activity other than hygge stops for a minimum of a month. Local TV is woeful. Occasionally on Twitter (pulled via search, ie during the storms) and Facebook (pages I follow, eg the library).
  • Has this changed? Yes, I never felt the need for local news before, although Reporting Scotland (not local, friends!) and the Granada crowd were always fun.
  • What are the implications for creating and sharing content? I’m not aware of any hyperlocal scene in Denmark, although I have links to review. Often lauded for the level of democracy, on the ground there is an closed network of decades old structures (societies, committees) run by foreningsdansker. We are compelled to pay DK 200 a year for some local institution which seems to exist merely to have an annual meeting to check everyone has paid their DK 200. The level of civic awareness seems low – another often lauded Danish value is the level of trust, translating to a mute acceptance and lack of questioning of officialdom. Although you do get irate people writing letters to the local rag.

Whose voice gets heard? Is the loss of local media is leading to a ‘democratic deficit’, where communities are no longer engaged in local politics or decision making in their area? Can hyperlocal sites help to address this problem? How far does the content of community journalism sites fulfil the political role of traditional media?

RADA style presentation from Andy Williams on his research into the value of hyperlocal news content. Slides not offered, but can run through vid stopping as appropriate:

  • the democratic value of hyperlocal news – the news as a source of information for citizens, as a watchdog, a fourth estate, as a mediator or representative of communities, as an advocate of the public
  • local news industry in crisis, meaning no longer fulfils above roles
  • studied 2000 posts on Openly Local during 11 days in May 2012, tracking topics (community, politics, sport, crime/legal, business/industry, environment/nature, entertainment/leisure) and who gets to speak (local politics, business/commercial, member of public, community group, police, sportsperson, culture/arts), ‘localness’ of source
  • largest category – local community activities, esp non-political interest groups, higher than in mainstream local news; but not political activists
  • next up – information about council activities, esp official sources and public authorities
  • tone – not much diversity, little disagreement -> not increasing accountability or acting as a watchdog
  • hyperlocal conveys local info of community and political concern and represents communities back to themselves, promoting community cohesion
  • on other democratic roles, such as campaigning and watchdog journalism, the jury is till out

The Nesta stuff is the most thought provoking. The research into hyperlocal content seems to show it is filling a gap in supplying stories but not developing into anything particularly innovative. News, heck…KBHFF and other resource sharing initiatives are perhaps more groundbreaking.

Practice and essentials

Up this week:


  1. According to Ofcom research, 90% of people in the UK access local news.
  2. The Caerphilly Observer produces 10,000 newspapers a fortnight.
  3. Approx a third of the Caerphilly Observer’s clickthroughs come from Facebook.
  4. Members of the public and community groups are more important to community journalism than they are to mainstream local news.
  5. Two advantages of producing a print version of your community news service are it reaches those without Internet access and is appealing to advertisers.

Twitter and #some

Dropped off  like the proverbial…couple of tweets noted: x faves too.

EvansTheCrime is getting stuff out of the forum, it’s good it works for some, but we’ve had the first #FLcommunityjourno irony: hyperlocals are looking for engagement, rather than linear…

Do wonder if community by geography really works. Community approaches maybe work better for interests, cf Living Streets, expats…this issue is touched on by Robert Mills.

Apparently Google hangout and Twitter chats are planned, but they’d get on with it. Plus, this is organiser led again – I just want a forum where I can find my own links, search etc.

#FLcommunityjourno 1

Signed up for Cardiff’s Centre for Community Journalism (@C4CJ) MOOC on, you guessed it, community journalism, led by Richard Sambrook (@sambrookblog post | another one) and a team of four (women). I’ve come across the Centre before – see my post on #cjc13: how to do community journalism. My hyperlocal tag also brings up How many Facebook users in Hvidovre? (2012) and an event report from 2011 including a review of DMJX’s Journalistik tæt på borgerne conference on citizen (sic) journalism. I’ve also heaps of links in Evernote. We’ll see how much of this stuff I can process during the five weeks of the MOOC.

While community journalism is often seen as a synonym for hyperlocal and online replacements for local newspapers, it’s interesting that the blurb states that the MOOC “will also explore different forms of community – whether geographic, professional or personal interest”.

Also a chance to give FutureLearn another shot. They seem to have made some changes to the interface, or maybe it’s just that we’re being led through it in a different way:

  • don’t remember seeing the introductory vid on how to use FutureLearn before – and you do need to watch it, the sparse nature of the design means it’s not entirely intuitive
  • this is followed by a screed of text – makes the whole thing feel very hard
  • the endless stream is now a to do list, hmm, not sure that is an ideal metaphor for dipper-in and -outers
  • my issue with comments remains – the welcome page has 449 ‘comments’ as at 8:30 on Tuesday morning, I don’t think so; this ‘below the line’ format attracts a lot of “me too” type responses

From completing the survey it seems that my main gaps are digital journalism per se, in particular legal and ethical issues. The course structure:

  • a theory strand looking at broad developments in the sector
  • a practice strand focusing on tools and techniques
  •  journalism essentials introducing professional skills

It’s pitched at interested learners, but also offers “further reading, more advanced technical exercises and, of course, plenty of space for discussions to explore more in-depth issues”.


Week 1 has 16 ‘steps’ on the to do list. After the preambles the theory strand starts with an article defining community journalism, ie text, yay! Snippet (my emphasis):

Community media often develop in areas where there is no alternative media coverage or where traditional media outlets have closed. As such, they can have a key role in binding a community together and connecting for example rural communities where there is otherwise no core means of communication. They can have an important role to play in ensuring voices and viewpoints, under-reported by mainstream media outlets, are heard.

The theory strand concludes with a discussion:

  • How do you think community journalism differs from traditional local news?
  • What does community journalism mean to you?

330. Nah. See bolding above instead, plus the Centre’s weekly roundup and:

I touch on local issues on my A/drift blog, and I have come across some bloggage from other localities, however the ‘citizen’ or indeed ‘journo’ angle is lacking so far. The local (free) press in Denmark is pretty unavoidable – where does funding come from? – and feels pretty top down. There has been a story lately about filming council meetings. To be continued…


The practice strand is made up of a vid from the Talk About Local people and one on other community media, in particular radio. Also, an overview of using census stats (E&W | Scotland) as an aid to researching your audience, backed up by a discussion. Don’t think Denmark has a census. If you’ve got an identity card cum social security number which even knows what library books you borrow it’s a bit surplus to requirements.


Begins with an article with an historical overview of local news. Nice stats:

  • in 1950 the average daily total paid circulation for British national daily newspapers was about 21 million (equivalent to almost 150 per cent of households)
  • by 2010 it had halved to about 10.1 million (equivalent to 39.9 per cent of households)
  • Ofcom’s 2013 annual market report found that 17% of regular news users said online browsing was their most important source of local news, one percentage point ahead of newspapers at 16%
  • ABC figures for the second half of 2013 show the fastest rate of decline so far for regional dailies in the UK – 14% year on year overall with 64 titles opting out of the ABC audit altogether
  • access to content published online is experiencing dizzying growth – in 2013 the Manchester Evening Post had twice as many online as print readers; the Western Mail almost four times as many
  • according to the Newspaper Society there are now 1,100 local newspapers and 1,700 associated websites in the UK; print versions are still read by 30 million people a year and digital channels by 79 million

Then there’s a vid on accuracy and verification in relation to:

  • sources – check your own digital footprint on Pipl.com and WebMii, website ownership at Who.is
  • photos and videos – TinEye reverse image search, cf Google Images (via camera icon); EXIF info on Flickr or via Jeffreys EXIF viewer; great tips, I’ve used this already : D
  • location – check on Google Maps, from tweets


  1. Local news is – in trouble but going through a period of change.
  2. Causes of change? Advertisers and readers are moving online.
  3. Will Perrin thinks Facebook has ‘changed the game’ for many hyperlocal sites. Gosh. See post I’ve just discovered in my Evernote on Hyperlocals and Facebook.
  4. Census data is useful for community journalists researching their area as it gives them information about their community including employment rates, education and age.
  5. How many more online readers than print readers does the Western Mail have? Four times as many!

All done!

What’s happening on the Twitters? 

Topsy showed 562 #FLcommunityjourno tweets for the last 30 days, 213 for the past day on Tuesday am, but revisiting on Saturday am showed 835 for last 30, 35 for past day. Quite a lot of people I’ve encountered before on the tag. There’s already a Twitter list and Facebook group (67 mems, Sat), plus talk of a FutureLearnTumblr, which could be a step forward. I’ll tweet this post when week 2 opens – the only blogger who’s popped up so far is Jase, using the rather interesting looking Fargo.

In terms of MOOCs and Twitter, I’ve archived tweets from four MOOCs – see my data page for details. I also blogged about #mapmooc on Twitter (1) | #mapmooc on Twitter (2)#mapmooc (5): the story of a MOOC. Worth revisiting in the light of Shirley’s tweet.