Hyperlocal thoughts after BBC’s Digital News Day

Hyperlocal thoughts after BBC's Digital News Day

This week I attended the BBC’s  and the Digital Media Business Cluster’s Digital News Day which attracted digital and media peeps from the region. The aim of the day was to develop the city’s role as a place of excellence for digital media.

Hyperlocal was very much the word of the day.

I’ll try and keep this post concise. There is so much I could say about the day. For my first digital media conference of 2013, it was a great one and it’s inspired and given me food for thought. To get a good feel for the day, have a look at Douglas Marshall’s Storify of the event, with some of the twitter highlights, thoughts and ideas.

There was a great line-up of speakers; from the BBC itself, West Midlands Police, Sangat TV, Addiply, Tyburn Mail, City TV, Birmingham City University.

What I want to talk about specifically is this thought that I tweeted out….

Hyperlocal thoughts after BBC's Digital News Day

and also the benefits of hyperlocal blogging when it doesn’t generate an income.

What did I mean by that tweet?

The Birmingham Mail has set up a In Your Area where they feature the hyperlocal blogger’s posts.  They have established a relationship with local bloggers and have been working with them for around 3 years or so,  and in September 2011 held an event in their Fort Dunlop HQ where the bloggers and Birmingham Mail reporters got the chance to meet in person.

Hyperlocal thoughts after BBC's Digital News Day

At the event, we heard from Martin Head who is the Managing Director of City TV Birmingham.  City TV will be launched next year, and will be looking to work with hyperlocal bloggers across the region.

Last week the BBC launched Local Live. It’s a trial for two areas, Birmingham and Black Country and Derby. It’s a new local community news initiative, and as such the BBC would welcome, and indeed has already been, working with hyperlocal bloggers.

Now we have (at least) three media outlets in the city who are keen on tapping into the news sources that hyperlocal publishing provides.

As I half jokingly mentioned during the panel debate (Is Digital News In Birmingham Sustainable) now that there will be more requests on hyperlocal bloggers, will the media have to work harder at building relationships and ‘court’ the hyperlocal publishers? After all, if a hyperlocal writer gets a great story first, and they are willing to share it, who will they give it to?

There are no set rules when it comes to hyperlocal publishing and who the writers should and should not work with (nor should there be any rules about that!). With news organisation’s budgets being pushed to the limit, you could view this increase in the demand for hyperlocal connections as unfair (if the writers can’t be paid for their content and news), or an opportunity to work with bigger news organisations and form connections. This is all going to be up to the individual to decide. Personally I see this as an opportunity, as my experience has been a positive one.

I’ve written before about the benefits that hyperlocal blogging can bring, based on my own experiences of running my hyper(micro!)local site.

And I’ve spoken about it at talk about local’s show and tal event.

During the panel debate the issue of ‘there’s no money in hyperlocal blogging’ came up and I said that personally there were many other benefits to hyperlocal blogging aside from the financial aspect, and I said I would list them, so here goes!

  • I’ve established myself in my very local community and know a lot more of my neighbours than I would have done otherwise, so there’s that feel-good factor of being part of a community
  • It’s indirectly led to work opportunities. Even though the site itself doesn’t make £, I have increased my earnings as it’s helped to raise my work profile as well as my skills
  • I’ve been able to teach and share my hyperlocal and blogging knowledge with others
  • When people are looking to move into the area, they often stop by the blog and then email me with questions about the estate so I act as a contact and advisor (I really think I should be earning commission from the estate agents! ha)
  • It’s a little snapshot in time and adds to the historical records of the estate.
  • I just like running it
Okay, there’s a few reasons!


And whilst I’m certainly all for people earning money from their blogs, there are many people who just aren’t interested. Bare in mind that when you start to make a site financially sustainable, you have to start to manage accounts, people (presumably advertisers), and that creates an additional job to running the blog.


Thank you to the BBC and the Digital Cluster for a great event. I hope it’s the first of many for our digital city!


Hyperlocal thoughts after BBC's Digital News Day

Digital City Social Graph by Brian Simpson

You can keep up to date with with Digital News Day on twitter @digitalnewsday


Say hello on twitter! @karenstrunks 

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