Friday, January 15, 2010

For all the talk of the journalist as an entrepreneur........

My former tutor at UCLAN,Andy Dickinson was present at the hyperlocal session at News Rewired yesterday and makes some good points on his blog.

I sat in the same session and I left this comment on his site.

For me it sums up the problems for journalism

Some good points Andy and as you know my big concern is the sustainabilty of hyperlocal sites.

For all the talk of the journalist as an entrpreneur,there seemed little appetite yesterday to try and solve the basic problem of how to make money.

Instead it was worrying that the debates descended into arguments about the role of the citizen journalist(which should have been put to bed now) and the role of the BBC (over which we have little or no control).

The likes of Lichfield blog and Josh Halliday’s SR2 are great examples of hyperlocal innovation but to be sustainable they need to find a way of attracting certain and regular revenue streams )I think I am slipping into my former profession here) but it’s an important consideration.

The question I asked in the session about whether hyperlocal could survive on volunteers and dedicated individuals was answered spot on by Philip John (ie no way).

I start to get a bit angry at many of these conferences as a roomful of media people seem to get wrapped up in minute detail whilst failing to address the bigger picture

As Andy says

By the time we got to the ‘close the BBC and local newspapers will thrive’ stage I lost my patience

Andy made the comment which I tweeted

Shall we go back to letting the printers carry swords so that we can succeed by killing off the competition”.


anna said...

I've been running a community newspaper for 10 years. Most of my team are volunteers. You all will think we are pretty steam driven as far as our website presence goes, but frankly a lot of our older readers wouldn't even think of reading our website. They are used to the free bi-monthly magazine which is pushed through their letterboxes once every two months.

And, yes there could be some chicken-and-egg issues here. We are keen to address this, but we will need to find funding and training to get up to speed and make our site more interactive.

One thing that interests me - most of these hyperlocal sites (just as with community newspapers and community websites in the past) seem to be done by one or two v dedicated people. What happens to, say, the SR2Blog when the likes of Josh (who is a hero in my eyes, btw) moves away from Sunderland permanently?

Nigel Barlow said...

What you say Anna is a massive problem.As I said most community websites are run by small teams of dedicated volunteers and this is not sustainable in the medium term.

I met up with Josh yesterday.He is passionate and dedicated but he will move on and it's unlikely SR2 will move with him although the idea I am sure will.

I am currently looking at a luanch of a hyperlocal site and am determined to make it business model sustainable so that the idea will survive without me being there.