News Rewired : Business Models in Community News

Here is a round table discussion from the recent News Rewired Conference discussing the thorny issue of successful business models for Community Journalism.


A community-based local online newspaper was launched last week by three unemployed graduates.

There is a really interesting story here from the Newry News in Ireland about how three unemplyed graduates have set up a new hyperlocal website.

As the article says “the team have made a strong start this week with over 10,000 pageviews and a range of stories with local angles covering” which is fantastic.  As someone how teaches entrepremnurial Journalism to under gradutes in eth UK I will be keen to see how this new business develops.

How hyperlocal could resuscitate town hall debate

There is a great article in The Independent by Neela Debnath about how she beleives hyperlocal news could resuscitate town hall debate.

Neela’s take on this is that as the regional press struggles of survive in the present climate, established and aspiring journalists should see it as their duty to cover their local patch as effectively as they can, principle by the Internet.

As she says of her neighbourhood, “There are so many stories out there that are just not being covered” and that she see’s her work “even if it doesn’t make it into the paper, as a way of creating important information on my local area.”  She also makes the useful point that any hope of David Cameron of creating a successful Big Society will only come about through a strong local press  “to process and deliver this information to the people.”

Hyperlocal Voices on OJB

Over at Online Journalism Blog (OJB), Paul Bradshaw et al, are developing a fine series of pen portraits of hyperlocal news sites from around the UK and further afield, called Hyperlocal Voices.

These range from Pits and Pots in Stoke, to The Licolnite and from Holland Telegraaf Hyperlocal Project.

J-lab releases study into hyper-local news success

Jan Schaffer over at J-lab has some really important insights into the real challenges of setting up and running hyper local news operations. 

They have just released, “New Voices: What Works.” an indepth study of 46 news start-ups they have funded.  Jan says that the report focuses on 10 key takeaways. They include:

  • Engagement, not just content, is key: Robust and frequent content begets more content, but it’s the engagement with users that make sites successful.
  • Sweat equity counts for a lot: Projects built on the grit and passion of the founders have created the most promising models for sustainability.
  • Community news sites are not a business yet. Income from grants, ads, events and other things falls short, in most cases, of paying staff salaries and operating expenses.
  • Demand for start-up funding is high. We had 1,433 applicants for the 55 projects that were funded.

It sounds fascinating stuff and would encourage everyone to have a look and feed back to them.  I am sure they would appreciate it.

Regional papers bounce back through hyperlocal news

There is a very interesting article in todays Independent by Ian Burrel that outlines the recovery in the regional press in Britain over recent months.

Avertising revenues are up and new titles are being published.  It is claimed that this is in no part due to a strong emphasis on local and hyperlocal news and surprise, surprise growing digital revenues!!

All I can say is well done to everyone involved, lets hope there is more to come.

London Neighbourhoods Online Unconference, some personal thoughts

Jason at Onionbagblog has done a very useful overview of the London Neighbourhoods Unconference at Ofcom last weekend.

I like Jason’s style and he gives the impression that a very informative and helpful event took place.  I am particularly interested in how this is going to map onto the developing localism agenda.

Daisy Whitney looks at some of the big players moving into hyperlocal

Fwix Creates Hyperlocal News Feed To The iPad

As a user of Fwix in North East England I’m not too impressed at the moment by its coverage in my area.  But I was interested to see that Techcrunch report that they have developed a hyperlocal news aggregation tool for the ipad.  Lets hope it helps them successfully go global.

A local TV landscape soon?

Local TV is set to become a big issue in Britain in the next couple of years.

After the abortive IFNC (Independently Funded News Consortium) bids that the last government initiated, Jeremy Hunt the new Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport has asked Nicholas Shott, Head of UK Investment Banking at Lazard to look into the issue of local TV with the aim of DCMS to set out a local media action plan for autumn 2010.

This is on the back of the report he commissioned by Roger Parry when in opposition on the potential for local TV in the UK (as reported here in the Guardian).   It all adds up to some potentially serious changes to the media landscape in the UK, particularly as it strongly fits with the bigger political issue of the Governments, more localism.

Roy Greenslade, as usual has some well informed points to make on the issue

Heres Mr Hunt announcing his thoughts on local TV and the intended relaxation the cross media ownership rules that the big players want to make it work.