The rise of hyperlocal – will community spirit keep local journalism alive?

As print media is dying a slow and painful death, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for journalism after all. I went along to this month’s SuperMondays event on campus to find out what’s all the hype around hyperlocal news.

No matter what your stance is on the ‘print media is/isn’t doomed’ debate, there’s no denying that the local newspapers are the first ones to take the biggest hit in declining readership and advertising revenues. This makes the rise of small, community-run, local and hyperlocal news sites fascinating.

Journalism skills for everyone

One of the speakers of the event, Ian Wylie, is the founder and editor of one of these sites. A few years back, Ian was working for the Guardian but foresaw the troubles ahead and took a voluntary redundancy pack when it was offered.

He’s since come a long and impressive way. With the help of a university lecturer and journalism students, Ian set up a hyperlocal news site JesmondLocal.

Now, we all know that anyone can start a blog and call it a news site. But to create one, sustain it, develop it and inspire people to become part of it is something else.

JesmondLocal’s mission and vision statements take their ambition even further. To fulfil their mission of building cohesive communities by helping people tell stories, they’ve set out on a journey of educating.

“Our vision of how we’ll do this is by cascading the skills of storytelling – journalism – from professionals to students to communities.”

Sustainable local journalism

In a world where everyone’s a publisher badly written and unreliable blogs are littering the web, it’s encouraging to see movement happening to combat that.

There’s no denying that local journalism still matters. We want to know what’s going on in our neighborhood and sometimes even tell our own stories.

As the local papers keep struggling with their ancient funding model, sites like JesmonLocal might just be the answer to sustainable local journalism.

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