Sunday, April 3, 2011

Thoughts on the future of Hyperlocal blogging / newscasting

WILL PERRIN with his thoughts on the "Future of Hyperlocal" in the UK. Interview conducted by Hannah Waldram of Guardian Cardiff:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Update: Hedon Blog and HU12 websites

THE HU12 family of websites have continued to grow and develop.

The main website - and adopted parent of the others is HU12. This has become the site which features the more 'news' and controversial items that will interest those living in the HU12 post code and wider Holderness area. It is not an hyperlocal site - more of a local news aggregator - and aims to post material which will have a particular interest to those involved in the business, public and voluntary sectors.

The Hedon Blog continues to build a bigger local audience month-upon-month. Predominantly (my stats tell me) this consists of people logging on from the Karoo network and I assume this is largely a Hedon, HU12, Hull and East Yorkshire audience.

In May the Blog covered the General Election from a Hyperlocal perspective - and attracted lots of newer visitors from those following the hustings. I am particularly pleased that candidates from all the major parties submitted material for the Blog.

The biggest recent development is the decision to try and generate more income from the family of websites using direct advertising, Google Adsense, Amazon (Real Example: ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income) and other Blog Services. The reality, is that unless the websites pay for themselves and my time, then daily work on them will have to cease. Unfortunately passion alone, for everything hyperlocal and community, does not pay the bills!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hyperlocal Newsgathering at #TAL10

LEEDS HOSTED the Talk About Local Un-Conference on Saturday 17th April 2010 bringing together a collection of community activists, web developers and journalists interested in hyperlocal publishing. The day was an enthusiastic affair which will lead to many local community websites and hyperlocal blogs being re-invigorated and re-freshed with lots of new ideas, methods and approaches.

A conference session was held  on Hyperlocal Newsgathering. The participants revealed a wide variety of methods are being used to collect local news and information to furnish hyperlocal blog posts, features and articles. These can roughly be broken down into four different areas:

Community: This covers such practical things as walking or cycling your home patch and discovering leaflets, posters, flyers and official notices about events and issues.

Councillor Sean Brady explained one of his key news sources came through drinking at the local coffee bar. Interesting local stories and views can also be gathered through speaking to people at natural gathering points for the community i.e. the school gates at dropping off/picking up time.

Community and school newsletters can be a vital source of information on local activities and groups. Making and maintaining official contacts with local PCSO's, Neighbourhood Wardens or Community Rangers might also ensure you get a regular dripfeed of local public information and advice.   

Council/Official Sources: Ploughing through Council minutes and agendas can be time consuming but unearth really useful local information. Actually attending Council committees and meetings of the Local Strategic Partnership can give you a first-hand insight into local issues and decision-making. Keeping track of Council planning Committees and sub-committees, by online and/or physical means, is another useful activity routinely carried out by journalists. Making full use of information released under FOI (the Freedom of Information Act) and actually making FOI requests is another useful activity that can often result in stories from a differnt 'expose' angle. 

And don't forget getting yourself on official mailing lists to be sent press releases from the public, private and voluntary sector. 

Social Networking/Facebook, etc: Many of those present used Facebook, YouTube or Flickr, not only to share stories with local people, but also to encourage local people to share their information, knowledge and expertise about the local area.

Online: Tom Steinberg from MySociety explained how e-mail alerts and RSS from sites such as fixmystreet, theyworkforyou, whatdotheyknow, and OPSI’s unlocking service, can lead to regular supplies of data about your area. Google Alerts correctly edited can also provide useful information based around key words. And of course your own comments on your website can provide leads to local stories. A key source for background information and sometimes direct leads to local material can also come through the use of Twitter.

Further information: An essential e-book on Hyperlocal Newsgathering has been written by one time VikingFM journalist Adam Westbrook which is worth every penny of the asking price for the aspiring community reporter. Also The Silhillian is developing a new essential online support for Hyperlocal journalists on WikiSplash.

More news from Talk About Local soon, but in the meanwhile it has to be reported locally that the 'award' for the "best attack on Hyperlocal from traditional media" was unfortunately won by the Hull Daily Mail (read story here).

Monday, April 12, 2010

Talking About Local Community Websites #TAL10

THE HEDON BLOGGER is delighted to be in Leeds at the weekend taking part in Talk About Local 2010. This event will bring together some of the most enthusiastic hyperlocal publishers in the country.

The event has been organised at the Old Broadcasting House in partnership with the Guardian newspaper's Local Initiative.

All the key things that help and support community and local newsgathering websites to continue to bring you the local 'news' will be under discussion.

Unlike a traditional 'conference' the items under discussion are not arranged by the organisers in advance, but arranged by those attending on the day. Whilst this might seem chaotic, in actual fact it ensures that people get to discuss what they really want to.

However, early pre-discussions indicate that sessions are likely to take place on:
  • Newsgathering methods
  • Covering the General Election
  • Meeting the costs (even a 'free' blog costs!)
  • Hyperlocal - the next steps?
I wrote about last years event which was inspirational and had me buzzing for weeks. I expect to come back with the same fire and determination from this event!

For those of you on Twitter, then you can follow the event at #TAL10 search.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hyperlocal Hedon Blog

THE HEDON BLOG was the subject of a presentation and discussion of Hyperlocal News at Humber Mud recently. The following is the set of slides presented at that event with accompanying notes to each slide below:

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:
Hyperlocal Hedon Blog
View more presentations from rayduff.

  1. Typical ‘front page’ of the Hedon Blog.
  2. The type of news that is ‘hyperlocal’ i.e. of interest to a very small audience – like ‘dog poo’ problems in the neighbourhood or holes in the ground!
  3. Popular Hedon Blog article of 2009 – the Free ASDA bus!
  4. The tragic death of Amy Black was a shock and people from around the world sought further news via the blog.
  5. Different ways that people can get the Hedon Blog information they want.
  6. The changes in the traditional newspaper industry that have renewed interest in hyperlocal news.
  7. Hobby blogging can bring passion, commitment and local insight. HOTI dog photo by Linda Hinchcliffe.
  8. Yes! – There is an active community in Hedon as demonstrated by the What’s On page and Wish List experiment. The Jigsaw Player and General Election Coverage are two examples of catering to particular audiences. Hedon Beacon photo by Neil Holmes.
  9. Beat Blogging – the daily routine of finding and gathering news for the blog.
  10. Excellent e-book by Adam Westbrook on the essentials of hyperlocal news gathering.
  11. Making it Pay 1 – It doesn’t have to!
  12. Making it Pay 2 – But if you don’t want to run at a loss! Source: Philip John.
  13. Inspiring Hyperlocal news websites – not published see Slideshare.
  14. Talk About Local – Leeds event bringing together hyperlocal community publishers.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Community Safety Week Theme on the Hedon Blog - Did it work?

COMMUNITY SAFETY was the theme of last week's Hedon Blog postings.
The idea was to concentrate on one particular type of article and see if readers found them interesting - or a turn-off!

The week began on Monday 8th February with a post about the benefits of reporting problems in an area via Community Walkabouts.

Tuesday covered the launch of the Not Just Noise website which is aimed at creative young people and sponsored by Humberside Police. The Safer Internet Day initiative also featured on Tuesday. Both these items included videos to watch.

The news that the Environment Agency was to expand its Flood Warning Service was Wednesday's contribution.

Wednesday also saw the Blog post about the timely  Government Training Events on Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour that are taking place over the next few weeks.

The Humberside Police Authority staged its Police and Partners Community Forum in Hedon on Wednesday and this was reported the day after.

The series ended on Saturday with a notice about East Riding Council's publishing of its Emergency Planning Guide "Get ready for the unexpected".

So did you find the series of use? The statistics show that the average daily views were slightly up on the previous week but lower than the week before.

Statistics of course don't tell the whole story. Comments to the website are the lifeblood of any blog - and there was a dearth of comments during last week!

So what are your views on this thematic approach? Could we do other weekly themes? On Health, Community Groups or Leisure for example? Leave a comment and let us know!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New Hedon Blogger site evolution.

ONE OF THE KEY ISSUES facing Hperlocal news gathering websites is making the activity sustainable - i.e. making it pay. This does not necessarily mean making a profit but in my case means not running at a loss!

In the case of the Hedon Blog then I was faced with the most likely prospect of migrating from to the self-hosted This article .com v .org shows the difference between the two open source alternatives - one crucial difference is that .com does not allow the placing of advertising links on its platform. would allow me to run adverts on the Hedon Blog but I would have lost a valuable part of one of the unique selling points of i.e. it's free, fairly easy to use and quick to set up; any community group can quickly set up a blog/website and get their 'voice' online. 

I had originally discounted Blogger as an option because you cannot construct websites with pages as is the case with Wordpress and their standard themes were a bit limiting. However, on closer inspection - and inspired by the Coconut Grove Grapevine - then I have started constructing a Blogger-based alternative. I have used a free-to-use professional theme from which allows me to increase the number of columns and offer different options for the placing of adverts. It is early days of construction but the basic outline of the site is available to view here at I have also purchased the domain name

Having built up a community or readers and participants at The Hedon Blog, then any migration to a new site will have to be done carefully and sensitively over a set period of time. Initial thoughts on this are that I would keep the Blog as the community website featuring voluntary and community sector events, meetings and activities. All other news would feature on HU12.

An exciting - but scary - period of development opens up over the next few weeks!