Or so it would seem… Following this week’s lecture on the rise of hyperlocal blogging as a low-cost, far-reaching mode of online journalism, I did a search for South Devon hyperlocal blogs on Google.
Most of the maps detailing the whereabouts of hyperlocal sites show a significant blank spot around the South Hams area of Devon, where I used to work as a local reporter. Even Northcliffe, the producers of the bigger local and regional newspapers in the area, with their 23 local sites launched last year, had a significant gap in their site map.
Here is the South Hams:
Clearly plenty happens here, and I’m not just saying that as a former reporter for the area. Local papers have crumbled elsewhere while South Hams Newspapers is still going strong… So why has the 21st century still not quite reached the area in terms of futuristic journalism?
Maybe it’s because the average reader profile of the local paper does not match the profile of a person who would look for their news on a hyperlocal website. Maybe it’s because not enough people in the area are ‘media-savvy’ enough to know what hyperlocal journalism could offer…
The appetite for local news has not changed. What has changed is the nationwide appetite for local newspapers. Surely this means, then, that it is just a matter of time before places like the South Hams, or from the looks of things, the majority of Ireland, begin to spring hyperlocal sites. A huge benefit is that it brings the whole community together into one place, from which they can spray off into whatever they care about the most. As I’ve said previously on this blog, a huge part of local journalism is feedback from your consumer – hyperlocal sites have the potential to merge consumer with journalist, community with stories, reading with commentary. It raises the bar without reducing the emphasis on the beauty of local news’ relevance to the average person.
As for the South Hams… Well, no doubt we’ll get there in the end.
“the average reader profile of the local paper does not match the profile of a person who would look for their news on a hyperlocal website”
– I think this might account for the big gap in mid Wales too. Perhaps Mr. Hunt’s announcement of ‘super fast’ broadband for all will change things…