I have been involved in publishing online news and thinking about it since 1997, when I was lucky enough to get the chance to launch a British local newspaper on the Internet. I have developed a multi-media journalism degree at a British university and lead video journalism training for print journalists.
However having a background as a geographer, meant that I was always interested in the spacial, social and cultural issues that flowed from this new phenomena. The rise of hyperlocal online news seems to me an entirely logical result of the move from an analogue to a digital news environment.
It is thought that personal identity is often strongly (but not solely) related to place and as the First Law of Geography states, “things that are closer are more similar” or as Waldo Tobler more eloquently stated, “Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things.”
It is therefor no surprise to me that people have a thirst for news and information about their immediate environment. Communities of place have often been overlooked in the rush to study communities of interest online and can often seem parochial, old fashioned and irrelevant. However, it is interesting to note the growth of the ‘Locaovore’ movement is a new perspective on the ecological and social importance of working and trading locally.
This blog will aim to chart the development of hyperlocal news, its impact on local identity and democracy and its relationship to broader social trends.
I presently work at Teesside University in the North East of England, where I am the Assistant Director of the Institute of Digital Innovation.
Best wishes neighbour,